Are You Normal?

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”  

— Ellen Goodman

I can remember my mother telling me to get a good job with benefits. Her idea was driven by her life experience which included what was most lacking and which looked like could be resolved with a steady job. The idea driving her suggestion had nothing to do with what my inclinations were or where I found the most excitement or what I was most interested in. That all became part of my idea of normal which I never voiced and I assumed was also the true normal and adopted by everyone else. I had no idea about shared beliefs or paradigms and whether they held water or reflected an individual’s personal desires. The second belief folded in to the “get a good job with benefits” belief was that a college education was necessary to a life without struggle. I can’t point to one source as to where that came from but I do know it was supported by my father and there were plenty of news stories touting studies that revealed that fact. Of course, the stories about those who rose to greatness without a college education were somehow seen as different and maybe even special. All of that; the tacit belief in the need to have a steady job with benefits and a college education in order to avoid suffering or at least a life of lack, was quite oppressive to me. Maybe that’s why I tried so many jobs. Maybe that’s why I always felt cheated. Like I was denying myself. Like I needed more time to really begin to understand what was hidden from view; the desire in my heart that may be risky, have no visible benefits, or provide a steady paycheck. I have been “normal” for most of my life. I have chosen to no longer be normal.

I bet you don’t feel comfortable living the life described in the quote above by Ellen Goodman because you don’t consider yourself normal. You have big dreams and are looking for opportunities to live an exceptional life. You can envision yourself as the hero of your own story and, if given half a chance, you would reinvent yourself and design your life much differently than how it currently exists. You are successful but you feel like you haven’t arrived. You feel as if something is holding you back from your dream life. Most people don’t dare challenge the status quo of the normal life but you are not one of those people.