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How To Let Go Of The Idea Of 'Normal' And Live The Life You Really Want

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how to be happy

Let's stop trying to make "normal" happen and let "interesting" run free instead.

When you're trying to figure out how to be happy in life, you have to realize that normal is a myth, folks. Period. It doesn't exist outside of being a setting on your dishwasher. It has no context in real, human life. I know I sound like one of those sociopath serial killers who answers a lawyer asking about his history of abnormal behavior with, "Well, what is normal?" But hear me out.

To believe that any one person or lifestyle is normal is like looking at all the colors of the rainbow and deciding that one is the "right one." It's reductive, subjective BS. Seriously, who decided these "normal" rules, anyway?


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"Normal skin tone," "nuclear family," "normal weight," "classic beauty" — who decided these things? And why did we all go along with such a ridiculous idea that there's one standard for how every human should live? Why are any of us still bothering with it? Gross.

Okay, obviously some facets of reality require us to acknowledge norms. If you go to your doctor, a "normal" test result is way better than "abnormal." That said, even believing in one ideal "normal health" can be detrimental for maintaining your own personal needs.

A woman's naturally-fluctuating hormone cycle is vastly different than a man's, for example, and she would only be hurting herself by trying to adhere to male health norms. And neither of the two systems are superior; they're just different. That's okay.

It's easy to long for a sense of normalcy in tough times. If our home life is in turmoil, we tend to want a "normal family." If we're in a health crisis, we long to "feel normal again." I get it.

I spent a lot of years wanting things to be "normal," as though it's a status I would one day achieve through hard work. But the more I worked for "normalcy," the more I realized it's not only a false concept but believing in it was keeping me from being proud of anything I'd accomplished.

Instead of "normal," what I meant was that I wanted to be "healthy," "stable," or "competent," and those things have entirely unique meanings to each person. That's also okay.


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One of the best bathroom graffiti quotes I've ever seen is "Everyone is someone else's weirdo." As I've gotten older, I've seen that this is undoubtedly true.

Within every society are norms that the majority of the world's population views as bizarre. That doesn't make one demographic better than the others — it just makes us different. I'll say it one more time: THAT'S OKAY, GUYS.

Aside from pooping, sleeping and eating, everything we do is foreign to someone else. Maybe those someone elses live on the other side of the planet or maybe they share an apartment with you, but either way you're already "not normal" by another's standards. Might as well enjoy yourself and do what works for you, right?

So invent your own career if you don't like what's out there. Eat your dinner in the bathtub. Explore your love of rural karaoke dive bars. Make your own false eyelashes from scratch and wear them on your silent meditation retreat. Do what tickles that weird little thing inside your soul and makes you a better, happier you.

Let's stop trying to make "normal" happen and let "interesting" run free.


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Liz Pardue-Schultz is a writer and activist based in North Carolina, where she overshares her bizarre journey through mental illness, recovery, parenting, and surviving Southern suburbia on her blog or anywhere she can get published. Her words have appeared in Huffington Post, Time.com, XOJane, Ravishly, ThoughtCatalog, and one time in the Letters to the Editor section of Playboy.

 

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