This is something I have battled with since my childhood.
Always wondering what was wrong with me.
Thinking that my life was valued less than my brothers.
The struggle is just as tough as an adult now. I look back at the mistakes I have made and wonder “If I was normal, would I still make those same mistakes?” The head games begin every time I ask myself this.
What is normal?
Based on the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the simple definition is:
- usual or ordinary: not strange
- mentally and physically healthy
If you ask my family, they will tell you that I am far from being ordinary. They will describe me as crazy, silly, animated, and other funny descriptions. Have been told that my sense of humor is corny and strange. As you can see, so far I don’t fit into the first definition of being normal and yet society continues to push it onto all of us.
If you have followed my blog, you will also know that I don’t fit into the second definition either. My daily battles with depression and anxiety make me mentally unhealthy. I don’t think or react like others do. My mental illness is the reason for this but every time I try to explain this it sounds more like an excuse, which is farthest from the truth. Trust me if I could get rid of it, I would have a long time ago. I may not be normal in the eyes of society but to certain communities I am normal.
So what does normal truly mean?
Since we are all unique individuals, the true definition depends on that person’s perceptions.
This means that what I define as normal will not necessarily be the same as you. Our generation needs to realize this more today than we have had to in the past. We have changed as humans and have also learned more about the human body than we did 50 years ago.
We have come a long way in understanding depression, PTSD and all the other mental illnesses. Yet we still have a long to go in truly accepting the ones that are suffering with it. I know this firsthand. In the past, others would tease me when I was depressed and tell me that I was just looking for attention. Instead of taking the time to help me out of it, they decided to judge me and push deeper into depression.
Even though battling with my depression and anxiety is not normal in the eyes of some, I am still a normal person. I have feelings and emotions just like everyone else. Desire for love and acceptance is the same as you. The inside of my body along with the DNA makeup is exactly like everyone in the world and yet I am still not considered normal. How is that ok?
They are wrong!
The new definition should be someone who:
- Shows compassion, acceptance and love towards others
- Works on improving their life and/or the lives of others
- Is the person reflected back in the mirror
This one I agree with, of course. I fit into all three of them and you do too. The most important factor is the person looking back at you in the mirror. You are normal, no matter what you are struggling with right now. I understand that this might be hard to believe but it’s the truth.
You must accept this first and foremost before anyone else can.
Society is always changing the way it sees what is to be considered normal. Look back just 10 years and remember what was not acceptable by others. Things may have changed for the better but we are not completely there yet. The one thing that has stayed constant through the years is the real person you see in the mirror. That person is awesome, amazing, important and loved.
Smile really big the next time someone shuts you out or turns their back on you because of your struggle. You don’t need them and they are not worthy of being associated with you.
This is what I have done in my life. You are more valuable than some word in the dictionary.
In the midst of your struggles, you are a warrior and not a sufferer.
Photo: Gabriel Garcia Marengo/Flickr
This essay originally appeared on Bestowing Fire.