All the Things We Need to Ditch Once This Is Over

The fact that the whole world is on time-out is an opportunity to make some changes

A photo of businesspeople getting food at a lunch buffett.

Normal is dead. There is no normal. Normal packed up its bags and left the keys on the kitchen counter.

This Covid-19 pandemic has turned the whole world upside down, and there is truly no going back. It’s like when you shave off your eyebrows one too many times and think that good shape you had will eventually grow back in. Ask the older women in your life. There are some things you can’t come back from, and this situation we’re in is one of them.

The fact that the whole world is on a “divine time-out,” as my girl Devi Brown calls it, is shaking the way we’ve lived to the core. It has upended all that we know to be ordinary, and maybe it is for the best. I think God is tired of our shit and has been telling us to saddown and get it together for a while, but we haven’t listened. So he brought on locusts and a plague. A global biological enemy had to lock us in our houses so we can go think about what we’ve done.

What we are now seeing is that the way we’ve been living has been unsustainable. How we’ve been working is slowly killing us. And why we need to reprioritize is more evident than ever. There are things we’ve been forced to do, now that we are sheltered in place, and new habits we’ve had to pick up. When all of this is done—Father Lord, let it be sooner than later; hot girl summer shouldn’t be postponed till 2026—what stays and what goes? What did we once engage in that no longer serves us? What did we start doing more of now that we need to continue? Here are a few things.

The ‘keep’ list

Staying connected to those we love

Since we are all hunkered down in the house, the only way we’ve been able to socialize with people who aren’t under our roof is by calling them. This has been heart food and has allowed many of us to connect with the friends we haven’t talked to in too long. We’re video chatting more regularly with our loved ones, and that part has been glorious. The sister circles I’ve been a part of have really fed me. We have to keep that after all of this.

The slowdown and self-care

The hustle and bustle and grinding of our lives rendered many of us exhausted. Capitalism is a system that requires our constant GO GO GO, and it ages us and reduces the quality of our lives. As a professional busybody, I have felt the effects of the rat race, logging more than 110,000 miles in travel in the past five years. And now, here I am, home for the longest stretch I can imagine, with nowhere to go. This slowdown has allowed many of us to recharge and reset. When we can go outside again, we should really consider not working so much, so hard, so often. We should also continue to prioritize our mental health and well-being. Many of us are finally making sure we’re getting adequate sleep and exercising, not just working ourselves to the bone. Let’s keep that party going.

The gratitude for essential workers

The people who are going to save us are the nurses, doctors, lab techs, grocery store workers, delivery people, morticians. They aren’t the billionaires. We are thanking essential workers for putting their lives on the line for us, treating patients, making sure we’re getting our food and supplies, and overall getting shit done. When all of this is behind us, let us not forget the people who showed up for us. We have to protect them at all costs, pay them the value of their work, and not take them for granted when we are no longer in the eye of the storm. Keep that same grateful energy!

The ‘ditch’ list

Shaking hands and hugging

Can we leave shaking hands as a greeting behind? I’ve learned that folks don’t really wash their hands. I mean, I knew it, but it was at the beginning of the shutdown that this point was driven home. Men started exclaiming that they’ve never seen the sinks in public restrooms so occupied. And you know we’ve seen our share of women use the bathroom and then walk clean out like they didn’t just have their hands near their nethers. With such indisputable evidence and my growing lack of trust in humans’ hygiene habits, I say we put a stop to that cultural more of shaking the hands of people, especially in business settings. No thanks, man in suit. Take this head nod and keep it moving.

Also, hugging strangers. I’ve always been a little iffy about mashing waists with people I don’t know. Now I really don’t wanna do it. No shade. It’s not you—it’s the microparticles in the air that I’m trying to avoid. We can Wakanda Forever salute.

The best-case scenario in all of this is that we emerge with more clarity, with more kindness, and feeling more connected to our fellow human beings.

Buffets

Buffets are canceled. Now that we’ve had to face the truth of a virus that hangs in the air for an inordinate amount of time, plus, again, people are trash with their hygiene, let’s be done with open-air all-you-can-eat restaurants. Aunties everywhere will be devastated at this ask. Shoot, we went to a buffet after my college graduation, and a few of my aunties brought Tupperware. But I can’t, in good faith and good stomach, go to one again. People coughing all out in the open—and not into their elbows—or touching food that’s supposed to be for everyone. I can’t even. Buffets gotta stay gone.

Unnecessary meetings

Now that we’ve all seen proof that most meetings should have been emails, let’s be more efficient and conduct fewer of these. Let us waste each other’s time less. We don’t have to sit in a room pretending we like our douchey co-worker’s ideas so often. Now we can tell them via email, “I don’t think this idea will have the impact we want.” In other words, “Man, that’s foolish. Delete that thought, and let’s pretend you didn’t even have it.”

Covid-19 has taught us that we spend a lot of time doing unnecessary things, and life is too short for all that.

The best-case scenario in all of this is that we emerge with more clarity, with more kindness, and feeling more connected to our fellow human beings. And that we never have to go to another buffet with our aunties.

NYTimes Best-Selling Author of I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual (Sep 2016). Preorder: PROFESSIONAL TROUBLEMAKER: The Fear-Fighter Manual (Mar 2021).

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