The Illusion of Normal
It seems as far as I can remember, I found myself desiring to fit in, to belong.

For me, this often lead to me doing things that weren’t always empowering, wearing clothes that didn’t quite fit, and acting like someone who wasn’t quite me.

It seems that as soon as we become known to ourselves as children we are told how to be, how to act, how to be like everyone else, and to avoid anything that causes us to stand out.

Webster defines normal as: “Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical.”

What I find remarkable, is how if each moment, each breathe holds its own uniqueness, how can anything be typical?

Without sounding too cliche, like falling snowflakes each person, each moment truly is unique on so many levels.

And yet, our minds aren’t always so good with the fluidity and uncertainty of people, and their often unpredictable actions.

Therefore it seeks, strives, and, more often than not, craves normality even if that means giving up a sense of curiosity and possibility.

The irony is that with some objective consideration, we can easily recognize there really is no such thing as normal, ordinary, or typical.

What there is instead is an ever-present invitation to be exactly who we are in each moment, infinite, creative, and always changing.

The challenge is that we live in a culture that not only does not celebrate uniqueness; instead, it seems to tell us who we are is too much, too weird, and too big.

As humans, we are deeply social creatures, and as such, a big part of how we learn comes from watching others and modeling their behavior.

This can be tricky as all too often how we get our education and socialization is through what is presented on television, movies, the news, and now social media.

The danger of this is that by ascribing to given models of being that are quite unrealistic and unattainable, we inadvertently create dissonance within our psyche, which leaves us vulnerable.

Vulnerable to programs, thought patterns, and false narratives of what it means to be human which often lead us to feel disconnected from reality, others, and ourselves.

We see perfection, and yet we feel and inexperience our imperfections never knowing that we are, and always will be, perfectly imperfect.

When we see a glossy print of a smiling man or woman living their best life, or a fabricated photo on social media, we forget that it’s not real life.

We forget that more often than not, we are being sold, and our desire for belonging and connection is being used against us all for the sake of diminishing our inner light.

How does this play out in our daily lives and relationships?

All too often, we project the ideal view of how someone should treat us or how we should look in comparison to the prescribed standards of beauty and desirability.

We place unreachable expectations upon ourselves and our partners, creating not only distance between our hearts but also inner conflict as we struggle to figure out why we’re don’t feel good enough or why our relationship doesn’t look like it should.

Without awareness of these dynamics, we experience the day to day activities of relationship ((paying the bills, waiting for the bathroom, washing the dishes) as somehow not quite fitting the Disney picture-perfect view of what it means to live well and how relationships should be.

We desire our men to be chiseled, stoic, able to handle any and all situations without breaking a sweat. We desire our women to always be graceful, dressed to play the part, and smell like roses and sunshine every day and night.

Worse, we desire so much more from ourselves.

And yet, when we or those we love break character, our mind does not like it and often responds by resisting what is by projecting expectations, judgements, and demands upon ourselves and those around us.

The way I’ve found to soften this dynamic is to bring the focus back to myself through practices of discernment and self-honoring.

To remember that what I see on screens and print may not always be reality. This process takes time, and like any unraveling is best when done with gentle hands and patience.

For some, simply, this awareness will open up new possibilities and ways of being. Follow those impulses.

For others, it may take some attention and vigilance to reprogram ourselves away from the control programs of the media, entertainment industry, and social media.

The process may take time but what’s at stake is our inner freedom, our expression, and our joy.

In the end, we are each vastly unique and something very much to be celebrated.

So be weird,
Laugh at the wrong time
Speak truths that seem out of place
Live lives that no one has ever lived.

When you are you
And I am me
Then, at last, we are free.


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