What Exactly is Normal?

Khalilah 'Khali' Coleman

I remember one day I said aloud while filled with rage and sorrow, “I wish I could be normal”. My then significant other paused for a while to digest what I had said, and then she said, “What exactly is normal?” She made me ponder her question. At the time, I was frustrated with life’s twists and turns in regards to my job, school, and unbeknownst to her, our relationship. She listened as I named off all the things that I demeaned as normal at the time and then skirted gently around our relationship situation. In hindsight, I have realized that I had spent way too much time comparing my life to other people,particularly to people around my age.

Social media presented me with daily visualizations of who I was not, what I did not have, how time had passed, and so on. I would spend wasted time dwelling on other’s accomplishments and comparing to my position life. As a result, I had felt as if I had let my family and myself down. My mind went in circles with a bunch of ‘would haves’, ‘could haves’, and ‘should haves’. I had constantly thought that if I ‘would have’, ‘could have’, ‘should have’ done this or that, then I would not have been in the predicament in which I was in at the time. Unfortunately, my thoughts were highly influenced by the sensationally and glamorously presented lives of friends, family, and former coworkers on social media. The daily plethora of daily post by ‘friends’ and people that I followed on social media sites caused me to question and doubt myself and ultimately, affected my overall well-being. Of course I would have never admitted this when I was younger since I was one of the many people attempting to keep up with the trending topics, lingo, clothing, and gadgets. What I had failed to realize was that social media lifestyles are not always indicative of reality.

It took me many years to come to the realization that no one has a so-called perfect and a so-called normal lifestyle because the search for perfection will be a lifelong, virtually unobtainable goal and the term ‘normal’ is universally subjective. Just like two people can view the same piece of art and come to their own conclusion as to the artist’s purpose and meaning behind the viewed piece of art, the same can be said for the definition of what is normal and was is perfection. Some of us, such as myself, may take an extended amount of time to figure this out but that is quite alright. Our minds will open up and become clear when we are ready and willing to seek and except the truth and reality. As a result of us all living our own authentic lives that have been influenced by many factors that include but are not limited to cultural exposure, parental upbringing, and environmental factors, we will all have varying definition of what is normal and what is not. Despite my knowledge of this information, I still became obsessed with reaching other peoples’ goals geared toward their perceived levels of being normal and obtaining perfection. This passive obsession caused me to experience an all too common neurosis: anxiety. Subsequent years of anxiety raising its ugly head had caused me limited mobility which in turn caused me to stop doing many activities which I had enjoyed in the past. I had developed a preference for staying to myself surrounded by many books and gadgets to appease me.

Years have passed so quickly and suddenly that it sometimes amazes me that nearly eight years have passed since I have confidently ‘did me’ and enjoyed life because of my created state of anxiety. I sometimes become engulfed in my emotions when I think about how much time I have wasted worrying about what others thought of me and worrying about getting that perfect picture or video to post on social media. Wisdom allows me to admit that I cannot blame the existence of social media for my lack of confidence in myself and insecurity. I am now aware that, as a result of my skewed perceptions of reality, I had created a place where I was no longer ‘normal’ within the confines of my own mind due to external stimuli.

It took me years to unravel myself and to tear myself apart because of my thoughts and I know that it will take years for me to recreate myself so that I cannot just exist, but live again in my joy with no concerns about getting that perfect picture of video to post on social media. I will refrain from blaming outside sources for robbing me of my joy and I will take full responsibility of myself in which I will live to embrace me for who I am and celebrate and cherish the uniqueness of me. I will define, live, and love my own normal unabashedly.

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