Normalcy is an illusion. It is a prison that conditions us to repress and injure the unaccepted parts of ourselves. Normal is a standard of judgement that we can never live up to. It's a cultural lie about how things should be. It's a toxic phrase that causes many of us to hide who we truly are in order to feel as though we belong.
In American culture a normal life is one of financial success, little stress, and almost no emotional depth. We want a carefree life, we want to pass by unassuming. Now, there's some wisdom in that. It makes sense that we'd like to reduce the drama of our lives. But the question is, at what cost? Is it worth repressing all of our emotions so that we appear normal to others? Is it worth avoiding conflict or asking for help so we never have to be vulnerable?
The idea of normalcy is a strange thing. Almost everyone I speak to will agree that no one is really normal, and yet, they are enslaved by the idea. Where's the disconnect here? What is it about our culture that enforces this idea of normal. What are we so afraid of?
We are afraid of intense emotions and the feeling of being lost or ungrounded. We are afraid of losing our temper and hurting others or of falling so deep into sadness so that we might never emerge. We are afraid of being rejected by the ones we love. We are afraid of our own dreams, desires, and fears. We fear that if others see our shame and vulnerability they might leave us.
Here's the thing, they just might. Our culture is terrible at holding emotion. We run when confronted by insecurity. We hide when we find anger. We attack or dismiss when we see someone cry. We are even afraid of joy, we tell people that they are "too much" if they beam with happiness.
In our own ways we are each the enforcers of the prison of normalcy. All of us have a hand in building the walls that confine our souls. Every time we judge another person, gossip, invalidate an experience or shut down we are building the walls higher. Our fear is what drives the engine of normalcy.
We are paradoxically afraid of connection and of rejection. We are stuck in a bind that squeezes the life out of our emotional and spiritual worlds. For what? Half-hearted gifts and flat compliments? What do we hope to achieve by embracing normalcy? The same life as everyone else.
So start to notice when you feel trapped, when you can't get the words out of your mouth. Notice when you feel stifled and shut down. When you can feel the eyes of others burning into you. And notice when you do that to others, pay attention when you talk about other people. What messages are you giving them? Instead of oppressing others with judgement, meet them with curiosity.
In order to break out of this prison we need to do it together, one step at a time. All people deserve to be free!