How difficult it will be to return to real life. Lessons from an explorer.

Shutterstock.com/ Graeme Snow
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It feels like we are coming to the end of the lockdown period of the pandemic. Depending on what country you are in and what stage the pandemic is at, will mean we are all likely at different stages. From a global perspective, the majority of countries are now easing restrictions and some element of normality is returning. While this is an exciting time it does pose a new challenge. What is it going to be like returning to the real world? This is an unprecedented challenge for most of us as until now we have all lived in the real world. To try and get some idea of what life is like after being out in the cold we spoke to the Expedition Leader of Davis Station, Antarctica. Rachel Robertson was the expedition leader of a team of 18 for an entire year. This was a level of isolation that we can’t understand but there are some comparisons that we can learn from. Here we share some of her thoughts on what returning to normality was like.

The real world is loud

While you might have spent the lockdown in your home listening to music or perhaps you had a noisy neighbor when you go back to the real world get ready for a shift in noise. The sound of traffic on the streets, the clacking of keyboards at the office, the hum of the air conditioning unit, all mean that there will be a base level of noise that we may be uncomfortable with. Rachel describes the difficulties of returning to the real world and how she almost had to acclimatize to the noise. While the shock may not be as stark for us, don’t be surprised if it bothers you for the first few weeks back in the office.

Life is fast

Lockdown is slow. From my own experience, I don’t have that much to do during lockdown but it still manages to fill an entire day. At the beginning I thought not having to go to work would mean I had so much time to learn guitar and an extra language and practice my chess but in reality, things just slowed down. When real-life returns it is going to seem fast and it will be hard to pack everything I am used to doing along with the real-life stuff into a single day. Don’t worry. You have done it before and you will be able to do it again, just give yourself time to adjust.

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Getting close to people

In the life of a pandemic, we all get used to not shaking hands, not hugging, and keeping a distance of 2 meters. When the vaccine is released and the dangers of coronavirus are gone will we all run into each others arms? Will we hold hands with our neighbors? Honestly, everyone will react differently. Some people will prefer the distance that they have learned to live with and won’t want to go back. Others will be desperate for human contact and hug everyone they see. Most people will fall somewhere in between and slowly return to the way things were but it will take time. Be understanding of how others need to adapt and give your friends and family and even strangers time to adapt to the new-new-normal.

Rachel Robertson learned a lot during her time as an expedition leader and has become a best selling author as a result. She is only the second female ever to be given the role of leader and had to learn a lot about discipline and human interaction as a result. As she left the position and entered the real world she effectively ended a period of isolation. This is a challenge all of us will face in the coming months. While it will be difficult it is worth it for what is waiting on the other side. Real-life.

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