I’M NOT NORMAL. But I am happy.
I’m feeing feisty. I’ve got a bone to pick today.
So often I get asked, “Is this normal?” A health issue or relationship or emotion or thought. Whatever’s going on in a friend or client’s life, they want to know. “Is it normal?”
Usually, I respond, “Normal? Probably not. But it’s you. So let’s see if it’s appropriate/healthy/functional.”
Let’s backtrack, shall we? If we’re being grammar geeks (and I always am), let’s think about what normal means in the first place.
I mean, we beat ourselves up over not being normal all the time. Not having the right height or weight. Not having the right feelings or responses. But how often do we think about what it is we’re judging ourselves for not being?
Normal comes from the word norm—meaning a standard of proper or appropriate behavior. Some arbitrary rule of how to act. Society’s regulations.
Seriously? That’s what we’re getting all bent out of shape about?
Maybe I haven’t made this clear enough in the past, so let me make it clear now. I don’t give a damn what society says. I don’t give a damn what rules I’m supposed to follow. I’m not normal.
I’m leaving the safe bet job. I speak out too much for my own good. I burn sage and say affirmations in the mirror. I ate seaweed and mushrooms, for God sakes.
I’M NOT NORMAL. But I am happy.
Normal is that fast-track to giving up what’s special about you. Because you want to be accepted and well-liked. Because life might be easier that way.
I hate to break it to you, kid. But the easy way usually isn’t the fun one. Or the one that makes you happy. I mean, nobody ever had fun actually staying in study hall in high school.
Seriously, though. I’ve wasted way too many years trying to figure out if things I did were normal. If the way my body worked was like everyone else. If my feelings were in line with the norm.
See, here’s the thing about feelings. They’re yours. Only yours. You’re the only one who gets to feel them. And you can try to explain them to other people. But no one can ever quite understand the exact bond you have with them. So, instead of trying to make them whatever you think is right in that moment, cherish what you’ve already got.
We’re a culture that’s obsessed with what guys have going on in the pants or girls in their bras. That’s a therapist’s paycheck right there.
We classify and group and put people together according to what’s not normal. We bind people according to where they fall short of society’s expectations.
We feel shame and embarrassment because we don’t have a steady job or we’re not that sexually experienced or we’re more emotional than we should be or we’re balding.
Trust me, there is no shortage of things to be insecure about.
So let’s make a pact. Let’s make a group session right here and now. Air that dirty laundry. Throw it out there—whatever’s not normal about us. Just throw it out there.
Me? Let’s see. I get pee shy in public. I have a mole on my behind. I’m very thin. I don’t know how to tie my shoes the real way. Oh, and I can’t really ride a bike.
Am I normal? Nope, Am I appropriate or functional? That’s a topic for another day. But I’m me. I’m Mike Iamele. And no one else in the world gets to say that. (Alright, well, all my Italian cousins—you know what I mean).
Because when we air our dirty laundry. When we throw it out there and admit that we’re not normal in so many ways— We throw the rules out the window. We open ourselves up to who we really are. What’s really special about us.
We stop letting the rules define us. Stop striving to be normal.
Because who you really are is exceptional.
And exceptional people are anything but normal.
Originally published at bostonwellnesscoach.com.
Photo: Michaelangelo Carrieri/Flickr
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