Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What the Heck is Normal?

In The Mythic Café, with Charles de Lint & Company on Facebook, a picture had the following quote, “The day I broke up with Normal was the First day of my magical life.”  To this I commented the subsequent line, “Never broke up with Normal because Normal avoided me my whole Life.”  Some back and forth proceeded including a quote that stated that normal pays the bills.  I then said this: 

“I am going to put my two cents in. I was born with a birth defect and did everything in my power to be normal. Any time my exceptional-ness showed I tried to hide it. For example I repeated a grade because I was given a chance to skip a grade. I skipped 8th grade, but did ninth grade twice, because I desperately wanted to be normal. In my early twenties I realized I was exceptional and would never be normal or average. Due to the way I was born I would always be different. I have been doing my best since I revel in that fact.”

Here is the point.  I struggled many times with trying to be like everyone else.  The catch is, for me it is unattainable.  I am different.  No matter how much I try that will never change.  I honestly do not feel I am better, I feel I am interesting and exceptional.  As a kid being different seemed like a curse.  I had to hide it or deny it.  I mentioned a missed opportunity in the piece I wrote in the comments for the picture.  When I was in fifth grade I was in a school that was not up to the rest of the country in scholastic standards.  I moved to Adak, Alaska that year.  I was so behind in my grade level.  For the next three school years I moved three more times.  Each time I was trying to get caught up.  In seventh grade I was in a private school.  Their Junior High program was not by grade but groups.  Group One was essentially Seventh Grade, Group Two was Eighth, and Group Three was Ninth Grade.  I skipped Group Two in my second year there.  Not only did I pass, I passed with mostly A’s.  I then transferred to Oxnard High.  I was given the opportunity to go into the Tenth Grade.  I decided not to I wanted to fit in not stand out, so I repeated Ninth Grade. 

The problem is I stood out anyway, 5’9” braces, glasses and awkward as hell, socially and physically.  I have since learned that normality is overrated.  High School for me was tough.  I came back from summer every year between the ages of 13 to 16 recuperating from some kind of surgical procedure. I was swollen and sore still in September and caught every illness.  What I failed to see was I am very smart, and though that may make me different I should never have hid it or been ashamed.  In my succeeding years since my teenaged years, I learned that normality is an illusion.  The closest thing to normality is being average.  Who wants to be that?  You want to exceed expectations.

What is normal?  Everyone is different.  Even Identical twins are not identical.  Physically maybe, but since they are each individuals they cannot be exactly the same.  The Nineties movie Angus tackled the attempt to be normal.  It showed that even those who seem normal, average or ordinary may not be.  Appearances can be and many times are deceiving.  For me it is unattainable, because I will always be different.  I wanted to change that for years.  My life got a great deal better when I realized that being different gave me more opportunities in seeing the world in new and exciting ways.

I used to get some interesting reactions over the years.  There were people who met me and realized I was someone unique and extraordinary.  I was always very hesitant to accept this praise.  Since my recent life changes, I am working on accepting this kind of praise.  I did not see the potential others saw in me.  I was involved in DeMolay, a Masonic sponsored youth group for young men.  I was groomed for leadership.  I did not see it.  I became it and I exceeded all my expectations and those of people who knew me.  Many of my friends, family and advisors were not surprised with what I accomplished.   

Normalcy is an illusion made by the average to discourage people from exceeding one’s station.  It is a herd or flock mentality.  Why be normal?  It is a form of mediocrity.  We should strive to be our best and accept no limits.  The weirdos, the strange, and the unique are our innovators, iconoclasts, our pioneers, and our legends. 

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