Who Defines “Normal” Anyway?
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. - Maya Angelou
Thank you Maya Angelou for these words and Love Heals for posting this image on your Facebook Page .
As I wrote on Tuesday, returning back to the developed world after six months on the road sometimes has me feeling like I’m hauling around a backpack of mixed emotions.
Reverse culture shock is real and many travellers feel more alien when they return home than they do on the road. Some of us wrestle with questions like, why do I get to turn on the tap to brush my teeth or fill my water glass when so many people around the world have to walk miles to get water that isn’t even clean? Or, why do I feel an instant pressure to conform to the status quo as soon as the aircraft’s wheels make contact with North American soil?
Normal can be an awfully judgemental measuring stick, don’t you think? Maybe you have found yourself comparing your marriage to your friend’s marriage, the quantity or quality of your blog posts to your favourite bloggers in the Twitter-sphere, or your progression up the corporate ladder to the seemingly amazing success of one of your university friends. Do you ever beat yourself up for not being “normal” enough?
Lately, I’ve caught myself in the comparison trap and wondered if there is something wrong with me because right now, I don’t want a more “normal” life. Over the past 10 months, I have packed and unpacked my suitcase upwards of a hundred times, slept in over 50 different beds (I started counting on a sleepless night in Costa Rica), and met new friends on six continents. It’s funny how this new life has started to feel normal to me.
Sure, there are days when exhaustion kicks in and I want to throw my suitcase off a cliff and refuse to ever pack it again. But, then I remember the bright eyes of the beautiful Rwandan children at the Noel Orphanage or the intense dedication of Harmala Gupta with her work at CanSupport in New Delhi and I’m ready to book my next international flight.
So, last night as I stared blurry eyed at my computer screen, I got to thinking about what many wise people have already figured out (there I go with the comparison trap) – maybe it’s not about measuring yourself against what anyone else defines as normal, maybe it’s simply about leaning towards people or places that feed your soul and bring you joy.
What if we all followed Maya Angelou’s advice and removed the word normal from our vocabulary? Maybe then, we could focus on seizing every single opportunity to embrace our “crazy” inner dreamer, say adios to our stuffy inner critic, and live our version of a more amazing life.