The Illusion Of Normal

I’ve been following the progress of two friends who currently struggle with life-altering medical situations. Both express their grief over the loss of “normal life.”

I’ve been there; paralysis destroys anything resembling normal. I wasted many years lamenting the fact that I’d never be “normal” again. I’ve learned slowly and painfully that there’s no such thing as normal.

“Normal life” is a complex topic with multiple facets. I want to write a series of posts about the trap of normal, focusing today on illusion.

Our culture is dominated by images. I suspect we’re all guilty of constructing an idealized picture of what we’re supposed to be and then confusing that ideal with normal. Anything that deviates from perfection becomes abnormal.

But that idealized normal American family doesn’t exist. Photos in fashion magazines are airbrushed. The perfect yard still contains weeds, and the strongest athlete gets injured. We work so hard to conceal imperfection and weakness, and suddenly appearance becomes reality and a non-existent, irrational perfection becomes “normal.”

Everyone else is happy, healthy, and financially secure. Others are prettier, bigger, smaller, or skinnier. I’m not as smart or capable or attractive as everyone else. Why am I the only person who’s different? Why can’t I just be normal?

We all wrestle with these issues to some degree, but at some point I had to accept that there ain’t no normal. Normal is an illusion that buries me under the weight of unachievable perfection.

When I stop comparing myself to unrealistic images and expectations, I’m free to understand and make the best of my circumstances. Doing the best I can with what I have–that’s my new normal.

Question: Do you have something in your life that you dislike because it doesn’t seem “normal?” Please leave a comment below.

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