I hear it. The fever pitch of excitement over mandates being lifted, businesses reopening, reconnecting with loved ones and friends, going back to work, and no longer living in a stressful sense of limbo and uncertainty. Yes, I hear it and I get it. The excitement over going back to normal.

But what if we don’t? What if, we reject normal and things as they were and instead aim for something better?

What if we don’t forget the things this pandemic lifted the veil off of. Things we tolerated and ignored before we were all brought to our knees in panic, sadness, and fear? Exposing a society that values some lives over others, and isn’t set up to help the less fortunate among us.

What if we stopped idolizing those whom have for so long been celebrated as accomplished and successful but during this time have never given back to their communities, not even once?

What if instead of being so eager to get away, we stayed home and supported the local businesses, the essential(ly) underpaid employees who never got a break during the pandemic so that we could have our foods delivered, our garbage picked up, our subways cleaned, our sick cared for, our children educated, our safety guarded.

What if we took all the frustration with our failing political system and instead of escaping it, we joined in to change it – as activists, protestors, volunteers, community advocates, voters.

What if instead of trying to improve our SEO skills, our Instagram poses, our TikTok moves, we improved our skillsets or learned a trade? What if we ignored the endless self-serving opportunities, set our ambitions to be more than trash famous and did things that actually mattered to others, who need it most and to society as a whole. What if, as creatives we created to contribute something meaningful instead of superficial nothingness. What if, in the process, we gave room for others to tell their own stories, instead of thinking we were the only ones worthy of sharing it.

What if we were more selective in whom we follow? Or better yet became the leaders we need? What if we rid ourselves of bad leaders in politics and in the work place. What if we stopped tolerating mediocrity and made space for those truly deserving of the mic.

What if we valued people not by what they have or how many countries they’ve traveled to, but what they do in their own communities?

What if we took all we’ve learned during this incredibly profound moment in our lives and turned those lessons into generators of good for generations to come?

What if we aimed to be known not for how many followers we have, but for the good deeds worth repeating?

What if we didn’t go back to abusing the environment? Respected wildlife, signs, and barriers, and warnings – even if ignoring them made for epic selfies.

What if we didn’t go back to making what you do for work be worth more than who you are at your core?

What if we accept that the normal we lived isn’t much to aspire to? That to want to go back to normal isn’t an ambitious enough goal that leaves too many others forgotten, abandoned, unseen. What if this is an opportunity not to go back to our lives as it was, but to go create a better version of ourselves and society?

What if we don’t go back to normal? Rejected it for all the ways in which this pandemic has proven to us how broken normal is.

That’s something I can get excited about – to aspire for the courage to not only demand better, but be better in the process. To not wait for someone to change what normal has been, and instead, take the steps ourselves to help make that happen.