Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Why is trying to be 'Normal' so exhausting?

I've seen this topic mentioned several times recently and it made me think.

Attempting to be normal is exhausting. It really is. Frustrating too - because you never succeed. I've been there, I know.

I remember a conversation at Uni about haircuts. One lad's Mum had always cut his hair when he was a child, the other had always gone to a barber. Both found the other's 'normal' exceptionally
weird, and a highly entertaining conversation ensued. I've never forgotten it - because it made me realise that 'normal' was a pretty useless concept, and somewhat deluded.

But it didn't change the fact that trying to be a 'normal' young woman (work, socialise in the way I think everyone else does, study, feel guilty for not managing it all etc) was automatic. And as I became disabled my life became even more distant from my view of 'normal' and I fought this, trying to force myself to sit at my office desk for long enough, to behave 'like everyone else' when I could be seen - and crashing out entirely the moment I was alone.

I didn't actively choose to do this - it just happened by default. Attempting to live the life I thought I should have rather than the life I actually had.

But now, years down the line, I know better.

I realised what I was doing. A 5 week hospital stay with staff regularly telling you off (in the nicest possible ways) for being ridiculous isn't exactly a subtle hint.

So now I don't try and be normal, I try and be differently normal.

By that I mean I am learning what my body likes and doesn't like. How it copes with things. And it turns out, I am really quite different from many people:

  • I can't function in warm environments
  • lying down on park benches is essential in order to enjoy a day out
  • I can't eat chocolate
  • I can sit with my limbs in extremely obscure positions
  • I'm 31 and medically retired
  • I run a business based on stickmen - but only when I feel up to it.

But despite all my differences, I am also totally and utterly normal:
I go through life using the skills that I have, learning new ones where I can, and getting assistance where I need it. I bring my uniqueness, the same as everyone else does, and it makes for a richer life. Sometimes I give, sometimes I receive. [Note to self: never underestimate the power of giving a smile or positive comment. They are some of the most influential things you have experienced, so never despise your ability to give the same to others.]

Now I don't make my lifestyle on my personal delusion of "other people's normal" I live it by my normal, basing decisions on my capabilities. And in doing so I didn't get the fallout of people thinking I'm weird that I expected.

Instead I found a differently normal, rich and fulfilling life.

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