“The need to be normal is the predominant anxiety disorder in modern life.” ~ Thomas Moore
Disengage from the dominant tendency. Just disengage.
We could say, ‘there is no normal’; and for sure that is to a large extent true, and the great majority of what I want to say here. On the other hand, abstractions and generalizations exist, even if they never find expression in one actual, concrete, particular – like, in this case, an actual living person. We can tell they exist from the damage they do. So instead I’ll simply advocate that we stop trying to be ‘normal’, and stop pretending there is a normal we should try to be.
Forget that everyone actually dreads and despises the ‘normal’ person for actualizing something it is impossible for they themselves to be – at least comfortably, and authentically: because not one of us is an abstracted generalization. To the complete contrary, we are, each of us, a wholly unique, concrete particular. Yes, like a fingerprint, like a snowflake. To this extent being ‘normal’, and especially endeavoring to be, involves the progressive extirpation and extermination of our eccentricities, our uniquenesses; and with them, our authenticity.
And abandoning these hurts.
Because, the need to be your self is the predominant mental, emotional, psychological – dare I say spiritual, calling of your life. It will not cower, even when we do, to our need to be accepted by others. The self-loathing we often feel as we become increasingly ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’, betrays the fact that the need to be authentic, to be ourselves, is still dearer to us than approval.
It is a strong force within us. Like a flower straining toward the sun, it will not stop. It may not win – but it will not stop.
But we could stop making it so hard for it, and with it ourselves, to win. The life-long mission (or battle, depending on how you step to it) to self-actualize is certain to be lost if we keep pretending we feel okay if we do okay by external standards. We have a chance of gaining both, external acceptance and inner peace, if we risk allowing life to show us who actually approves – not of ‘normal’, but of us.
I leave you with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes’ 3 secretos of the psychology of the healthy psyche. (They are paraphrased below, and I believe I got them from her lecture series, The Power of the Crone). They are the secrets to seeing yourself clearly through the eyes of something that is far more ancient than any culture you might consider yourself a part of. They are, as she says, “the secrets that every gifted soul has to come to terms with and accept – and remember unequivocally.”: (Note: If you have difficulty donning the appellation ‘gifted’, while that makes me a little sad, you can replace the word with ‘unique’; for what she is referring to as your gifts, are precisely those eccentricities, the idiosyncrasies, that make you the particular individual you are.)
1. Since you’re born gifted, you’ll never lead an ordinary life. That should not be pathologized. But rather, a great source of pride.
2. You’re made one of a kind with all your oddities because eccentricity is the first sign of giftedness. In fact your oddities are the arrows pointing directly to your gifts. So never be ashamed of how strange you are, you must treasure that strangeness.
3. Normalcy is the enemy of giftedness. Normalcy is the enemy of your gifts.