Here we are, trying to find our place in the world. Whether this is simple or easy is up for judgment. Perhaps this is all relative and, in theory, everything is relative.
We’re all looking for something. But at the same time, we all have our searches. We have our own views and our own perception of what life is or what it should be like. We have our own parameters or margins of judgment which we try to fit between. Otherwise, we find ourselves uncomfortable or out of the scope.
Perhaps some people might say, “I just want to be normal.”
Normal: As in conforming to a standard or common type; as in usual (whatever that means) or abnormal and deviating from the standard. This means to be regular or both evenly and customarily arranged and approximately average.
Normal: As in free from disorder or more specifically, free from mental disorder, free from infection, disease, deformity or malformation or specific manipulation.
To be normal is to be standard. Yet, here we are once again, alive and well on this big conveyor belt that I call Project Earth. None of us are alike. We all come from different places and have different views. We see things from different perspectives. Even with our similarities, we still have differences. Therefore, we all have the right to our own standards.
Better yet, we all have our own normal.
(If there is such a thing.)
Charles Bukowski once wrote, “Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
To him, this is his normal. To him, his life and his perspective was a life according to him.
To me, I found that I related to this. I found that the seasoning of my life was created by the flavors of my experience. And so what?
So what if I did not excel in the same schools? So what if my background is diverse? In comparison to others, my life is mine and no one else’s.
Some people never sat at a table with their entire family at dinnertime. Some people never heard the sound of their family talking and eating at suppertime.
They never heard the sound of plates passing and knives or forks scraping the plates. They have never been filled with an overload of food, love and family connection.
Some have never sat at their family dinner table and heard the political debates, which at times became loud and sometimes heated. Perhaps there was a family member at the table who asked, “Can’t we get through one meal without a political debate?”
Maybe the clanking forks on the plates and the sounds, the smells of the food and the aromas of the home are a road map to a place in their history.
For a second, take an outsider; take someone who grew up differently or a person who rarely sat with their entire family at dinnertime. Take someone from a polished or quiet family and place them at the table of a loud family. Take someone who comes from an unaffectionate household and then bring them into a house where everyone hugs each other and family members greet one another with a kiss on the cheek.
The experiences are different. To the person from a quiet home who attends a dinner in a loud home, this would appear to be strange.
But not to the family who invited them. To them, this is normal. This is their standard.
We have been taught and told how to live, how to think, what normal is and what normal isn’t. We have been given a plan or blueprint as to how we should live, how we should think, how to be in charge, how to delegate authority. We are taught how to love, who to love and how to speak because this is what’s considered to be “normal.”
Anything outside of this spectrum is abnormal; as in not regular, as in not typical, or average and, subsequently, this is deviated from the standard.
As for the word standard, this means something which by general consent is considered to be the general basis. This is an approved model. (But approved by who?)
Therefore, to live the standard life would mean to adhere to the codes, laws and principles of a usual routine. This means to conform with common patterns – this means to seek the average requirement or to commercially fit with an organized description of quality or beauty.
To be standard would mean to be in accordance with a common weight or acceptable size and measure.
What is normal?
What is normal love?
What is normal sex?
What is a normal friendship?
What is a normal life besides a standard which has been trained and constructed by a social norm, which to me is nothing more than uninspiring or worse, unenthusing.
What does a normal day look like for someone who lives in a big home? They have a big car, a big bank account, a big life, a big job title, and they go off in their big fancy world to do their big fancy things. Yet to someone else, relatively speaking, that life is infinitely small or unreal and infinitely meaningless because to the outside eye – their version of normal is so infinitely different.
The idea of what is normal is an interesting connection to us and our version of mental health.
It would be inaccurate to believe that people think, feel or see things the same way.
It would also be inaccurate to assume that our interpretation is the same to other people.
People might often find themselves on the course of herd mentality. Therefore, a life like this falls in the pattern of “if this, then that.”
In which case, we are caught in the uniformed choices and uniformed opinions that are likened to a life which we have been directed to live. I say this because, of course, we have been told what’s normal and what’s not. This has become the standard.
We lose to our comparisons through different manners of shame. We seldom see that if we don’t fit, this is not about right or wrong. Instead, this is only a matter of difference and there’s nothing wrong with being different.
Life like this is too much pressure.
We have to fit between the lines.
Do not step outside of the box.
Fit in. Conform. Coincide.
Be happy! But just be sure not to defy the standard.
But what if my happiness comes from an uncommon standard?
What if my tastes or my desires are not the same?
What if my dreams are not the same as the average white-picket fence or the typical family model?
Does this mean I am wrong?
(Are you wrong?)
What if my life and the pursuit of my happiness is cut from a different cloth; therefore, my standards are not the same. Does this mean I have deviated from the path of the so-called normal.
A big challenge we face as people who experience depression or anxiety is the forever feeling that something is wrong with us. We experience the idea that something about us is not normal and that we are different. Maybe we are. Or maybe I am. But is that wrong?
Perhaps there are people who assume that they will always be different and that to be happy, their only outlet of happiness is to accept their differences. Rather than find shame in our inability to be “like everybody else,” what would it look like if we allowed ourselves the freedom to be different?
No judgment. No regret.
Or better yet, what would it look like if we learned to embrace ourselves as we are? This way, we can avoid the misunderstandings of “now” and separate ourselves from the margins and limitations that hold us back.
My normal is mine. Your normal is yours.
Why do the two have to be exclusive or run parallel?
Why can’t both ways exist?
Why do we have to be alike?
Or if we are different, why do we have to marginalize one another?
Better yet, why do we do this to ourselves?
When it comes to the details of living and finding a happy life, how come we never look in the most obvious place?
How come we don’t look within?
Think about this –
How often have you forfeited your own happiness because you lacked the understanding of self-worth?
How often have you or someone you’ve known put off their own happiness because they were afraid to step away from the so-called standard?
When was the last time that you tried and dared to be different?
How often have you followed the commercialized version of life?
How many times have you followed the wrong blueprint to build your dreams and find happiness?
How often have you looked back and wished you were unafraid to do, be, think and openly express yourself without limitation?
How often do you give in to rejective thinking because you don’t want people to think there’s something wrong?
How many times have you wished you could step away from your life or out of your shell?
I can say that I know what beauty is. I can say that I know what is pleasant to me. I can say that I know what inspires me. I know what love is and what love feels like to me.
I know what motivates me to stand up and cheer. I know what motivates me to get up and run or hide or bury my head in the sand. I know what motivates me to feel proud and what inspires joy or shame.
Put simply, I know me.
I know what my normal looks like, which might be abnormal to the rest of the world. But then again, at the end of the day when I see myself in the mirror, I don’t see anybody else.
I just see myself.
Helpful hint: If you are looking to find your purpose or if you are looking to find your version of happiness – stop listening to other people and start looking within.
Happiness is self-acceptance, awareness and having a conscious understanding of who we are, what we want, what we love and what we need to do to make this so.
Make your own path. Find your own plan.
Get out there and make it so.