Fuck “normal”. Honestly, what is normal? According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, normal is defined as “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”. Just that definition alone makes me cringe. Conforming to a standard? Who’s standard? After talking about this idea of normal with friends and family, I have come to realize that there are some trends when it comes to the business of being normal. Here are the top answers I received: go to school, get a degree, get a good job, get married, have children. Sounds pretty normal, right?
I understand the importance of getting an education, having an income, finding true love and producing a brood of lovely children. If everyone could be so lucky to have all of this, wouldn’t the world be a more beautiful place?
Maybe, if that is what they actually want to do.
I used to spend a great deal of my time trying to be the textbook version of normal. I rushed into college out of fear that without a degree I would end up broke on the streets. I graduated, got a job rather quickly then went back for my master’s because everyone else was doing it. I hopped in and out of relationships in a rush to turn one of them into a husband. I practically planned my own wedding and mentally photo-shopped potential offspring while lying in my bed after first dates (Think: Kate Hudson in How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, but I was serious). As I got to my mid-twenties I felt pressured to hurry up because many of my friends were already surpassing me on the normal path. Jobs, weddings, houses, babies and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up or better yet how to find a prospective husband.
This pressure to be normal consumed me. I couldn’t focus on anything except work, husbands, the housing market and if my eggs would still be working when I got all this shit figured out. My obsession with having it all together and catching up with everyone else in an effort to be normal played a huge role in how I came to be where I am now (You can read more about that here). After months of self-reflection mixed with minor panic attacks and lets be honest, some help from my own kick ass coach and therapist-I began to understand that I was the only person who could define mynormal.
What’s normal to a lot of people may in fact not be for you or me. Whether you call it normal, traditional or some other name is not the point. The point is that we must get clear with what we want for ourselves-normal or not. Our lives are not meant to mirror others and we are not destined to conform or imitate someone else’s “happily ever after”. We must live and design our own best lives. Whether this means a degree, a career, and a significant other or not is all up to you. Decide what you want in life and more importantly decide how you want to feel in life. Do you really want a significant other just to check it off the normal list or do you want someone because you want to feel love, trust, comfort and joy from their partnership? Do you want a job just because it’s the normal thing to do or because you want to feel accomplished, proud and fulfilled doing what you are called to do?
Whether or not your choices impress your parents or are as esteemed as your über successful older sibling, decide what you want and make that your reality. When you live your life authentically it feels so much better, trust me. And besides, according to that same dictionary, the antonyms for normal are “eccentric, unusual or unexpected” and I think all of those options sound pretty rad, don’t you?
“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future."-Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild