Normal is a Lie
"You just seem so young," said a woman who walked into my business the other day. I still haven't learned the appropriate response to this sort of comment. It's neither a criticism, nor a complement, but a perplexed stating of the facts. In this particular case, I took the "smile and nod" strategy. Often, I attempt to validate the claim. I ramble about past experience I have or try to sound highly educated. In actuality, I want to say, "Yeah, I am, but so what?" Most of us are insecure when it comes to the way others perceive us. We are careful to craft a narrative about our lives that is appealing, sexy, unique. Perhaps that's why I like writing; I have the opportunity to carefully choose my words before I put them on display for the world to see. However, the paradox of our natural insecurity and the way life shakes out is the fact that we are constantly challenged to choose between average and beyond.
Have you ever felt the uncomfortable haze that comes over a conversation when someone decides to be really honest? I don't mean honesty in a rude way. Rather, I'm talking about the feeling of surprise that we all feel when someone decides not to sugarcoat their answer. Not to validate it. Not to make excuses for why they do what they do. What if we all just said, "This is the choice I made because I felt it was right. I felt called to do it. I felt called to live differently."
There would be a lot of uncomfortable silences at dinner parties.
Most of our stories, if we are honest about them, aren't normal at all. No one really knows what normal is, when you think about it. "Normal" is like a pact that all of society has agreed to, but no one ever talks about it. And yet, we wake up every day, put on our makeup, and decide to play normal for an audience that isn't really paying attention and could probably care less.
I want to become increasingly comfortable with living beyond average. Note that I say beyond, not above. Above average is a dangerous sentiment, one that implies that we have to be better than others, better than the standard. That's what creates a culture of social media photo shopping and meme-friendly captions. Beyond average is what each of us really is when we take the time to be honest and make the unconventional choices.
So ask yourself, what does living beyond average look like in your life? Maybe it's something seemingly small. Maybe you make choices for the way your kids will be raised that aren't popular. Maybe you take a chance on a relationship that everyone else thinks is bad news bears, but you don't want to give up on them. Maybe you stop justifying the person that you are and accept the fact that not everyone will agree with you.
You don't have to defend yourself to everyone that crosses your path. Not everyone will see eye to eye. Let your choices be confident ones, strong enough to stand on their own, but put the idea of normal to shame. Normal is a lie.