By: Lauren Freier, Regular Contributor
I was at dinner with a friend a few weeks ago when she asked, “What are your guilty pleasures? What are those super weird things about you that no one else knows you do?” We began confessing to obsessions with trashy and pre-teen television shows, bizarre food concoctions, questionable hygiene rituals, and various other erratic habits, all the while laughing uncontrollably and realizing that we share some common oddities. I began to understand that our mutual weirdness was strangely unifying; we were waving our crazy flags high and saw that they weren’t so crazy after all.
In the past, my friend and I were the embodiments of contradiction. We would talk about trusting our gut, allowing room for mistakes, and dreaming impossible dreams. But all the while we jealously looked on at people who seemingly had it all together, yearning for a similarly easy and simple life. Most of all, we just wanted for our lives and ourselves to be normal. What we didn’t know then was that, in breaking down the socially acceptable definition of “normal,” “ordinary” and “conforming” were definitely not what we wanted our lives to become. On the converse, we wanted to be anything but.
Smack in the middle of the endlessly talked about “twenty something” generation, my friend and countless others have shown me that these feelings of chaos and not knowing are universal. We get bored by routine, grow hungry with passion, and become antsy for adventure. We whine and complain about wanting things to settle down, to have more answers, to feel more stable in our careers/relationships/finances, craving an end to our perpetual limbo, but this uncertainty actually is the new normal. Or at least our new normal.
I have begun to realize that normal is all relative, and we each have the power to decide our own normal. What holds us back is the shame in not feeling good enough and the guilt from comparing ourselves to those who we think are functioning better. As Albert Einstein once said in one of my all time favorite quotes, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So define your own strengths and be unapologetically you. You are an original, now allow yourself to break the mold.
Lauren is a passionate writer, Beatles fanatic, celebrity gossip junkie, therapist, and mental health advocate. Her personal and professional experiences in both LA and Chicago have inspired her dedication to emotional wellness, resiliency, and self-acceptance. She holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and is a therapist at InnerVoice Psychotherapy and Consultation, a Chicago-based private practice, as well as a social-emotional health educator at a non-profit organization.
Featured image via printmag.com