Read This When You Don’t Feel Normal
In my early 20’s I was figuring out what my life was and what it could be. I was questioning my education going forward, my career and the death of someone very close to me.
I was also still figuring out who I was as a person.
But the one thing I never really questioned during all this figuring out was if I was normal.
That consideration wasn’t even a thought in my head. Of course, I was quirky and clumsy, and a little brash – and I wasn’t sure if I was an introvert or an extrovert or what I wanted to be when I grew up.
But that was just who I was – and it was normal.
Then I was diagnosed with MS.
After my diagnosis, suddenly the idea of “normal” became this huge focus. Not just for me, but for the people in my orbit as well.
My doctors and nurses kept using the term “new normal.” As if “regular normal” was no longer on the table. I apparently couldn’t achieve “regular normal” anymore, so I got the participation ribbon instead. “New normal” was all I was allowed to achieve from that day forward.
I hated “new normal” from the second I heard it. I saw it as patronizing. Like I was excused from the “normal life” table.
I felt like my life was demoted to “coping” from that day forward.
Nope. I didn’t agree with that at all.
My comfort with bucking authority has always been a strength of mine. And I bucked this whole “new normal” nonsense from the get-go.
Because I knew that I was still just like everyone else on this planet. Even – god forbid- with a diagnosis.
The “new normal” fallout.
A lot of people living with an autoimmune disorder don’t feel normal.
I hear the frustrations all the time.
“I can’t travel like a normal person,” “I can’t order at a restaurant like a normal person,” “I don’t have the energy of a normal person.”
When you’re frustrated with your “new normal” and feel like “regular normal” isn’t available anymore, it’s easy to believe you’re simply “not normal.”
And that label never feels good.
When we compare ourselves to “normal people,” two things are happening.
1. We feel horrible because we’re bullying ourselves about not fitting in.
The reason we say we don’t fit in is because of something outside of our control – getting sick. We feel frustrated, and outcast, and looked down on, and even shamed and scared. And chances are we’re holding that all inside.
Awesome. Sign me up.
2. We’re lying to ourselves because the definition of what we’re comparing ourselves to is never accurate.
We define “normal” people as being carefree, eating whatever they want with no serious consequences, energy for days, always reliable, everyone loves and depends on them, don’t think twice if they want to fly around the world or go skydiving. (Oh – and they’re skinny and have great hair.)
Because we don’t fit this definition, we can’t be normal anymore.
The truth is, no one will ever fit this definition.
How to spring from the “normal” trap.
When I feel myself falling into compare and despair mode, I call my own bullshit.
Plain and simple.
That means I challenge everything.
-Is it true that most people are carefree and eat what they want? The multi-billion dollar diet industry would claim otherwise.
-Are most people really reliable and dependable? Ask anyone who manages people and they will tell you how hard it is to find people like that.
-Do most people really not think twice about flying around the world? Look around the airport the next time you go and see how not happy and worry-free people are.
-Do a mental survey of the next 100 people you see – how many of those people do you really think would jump out of an airplane without freaking out and peeing themselves a little.
You will soon see that your definition of “normal” is a total lie.
The only reason this lie exists is to give you something to feel bad about.
When we start managing our mind, we can find this happens quite a lot.
This is one of my favorite exercises to do with clients. Have them call their own bullshit for a week. They’re amazed at how much they’re making up and believing to keep them feeling less than.
We have the power to stop this right now.
We don’t have to believe we’re not normal.
Certainly, we don’t have to believe we need to be normal to feel better.
We don’t even have to believe that normal exists in today’s world.
I’m not normal.
Because it’s not normal to be conscious of what I’m thinking. It’s not normal to manage my emotions. Definitely, it’s not normal to be able to pinpoint a reaction in my body to a specific ingredient I ate at breakfast.
It’s definitely not normal that I can tell precisely why I’m tired and know how to truly snap out of it.
I love that I’m not normal. Because I don’t believe there is a normal.
And if there’s not a “normal,” there’s certainly not a “new normal.”
We’re all just humans, living our lives the best way we know how.
And that feels amazing.
What’s your definition of “Normal”?
Tell me in the comments! I always love hearing from you.