That “N” Word!

Have you ever thought to yourself “why can’t I be normal for once”? If not, have you ever had someone ask you “why can’t you just be normal for a day”? Still no, well lucky you. I used to spend hours wondering what that would feel like. You know, to just walk amongst everyone else without sticking out. For as long as I can remember, I have never felt like everyone else. I remember being interested in things most people my age ignored, and irritated by things many people my age enjoyed. It was as if I needed to work very hard just to be like a few of the people around me. Despite all my work, I never quite looked like everyone else. I always felt like that square peg someone was trying to jam into a round hole.

When most of my friends had imaginary friends…I had an imaginary crew with careers and vacation homes. I remember in second grade being asked my favorite holiday. I stood up proudly and said as loud as I could, “April Fools Day!” My teacher just glared and said “that’s not a holiday”. Growing up, when my friends were outside riding bikes or jumping rope, I was in the house figuring out all the hidden codes to the Nintendo and Sega video games (which I still know so hit me if interested).  When my classmates wrote book reports, I wrote poetry and mailed it to Maya Angelou.  At 7 I made a metal detector for the science fair using a broom stick, calculator, and radio.  Yes, it is possible.  When I was about 9 years old, I electrocuted myself building what should’ve been the world’s first VCR/Game System. Yes people, I was THAT kid.  Fortunately, the circuit breaker in my house tripped and I am here today to tell the story.  But, I was the kid jumping off the roof in a cape.   The one in the choir stand determined to clap on the off beat. The kid turning cartwheels in home economics class when the teacher turned her head.  But, I was also the one balled up at the table after eating vegetables.  The one on the toilet for hours screaming in pain after eating corn on the cob. 

When I was about 11 years old, I remember being so frustrated that I didn’t fit in and upset with my “wack body”. I went crying to my favorite Aunt after getting sick at a family picnic.  With tears in my eyes I said “my personality is different from everyone, and so is this stupid body.”  With a big hearty laugh and a smile straight from the movie screen, she turned and said “now why on earth would your body be normal, when the rest of you isn’t.” Completely stunned that finally someone seemed to understand my struggle, all I could muster was “huh?”  My Aunt continued, “baby, why do you want so desperately to fit in, when clearly you were made to stand out. Listen, as you grow up you will learn that you are different…an acquired taste if you will. But trust your Auntie, someone will drink.” 

Looking back at myself, with 35 year old eyes, I don’t know why I was so adamant about fitting snugly into the “normal box”.  I can’t tell you how many meals I pretended to eat at work functions, so no one would ask questions. The thousands of times I changed floors at work to use the bathroom, so no one recognized my shoes in the stall.  The countless meals I ate only to become violently sick, all because I didn’t want to answer questions about why the food on my plate was untouched.   

Fortunately, I’ve realized that fitting in or being normal is just too much work.  The definition of normal changes, based on the people you ask.  What seemed crystal clear to me as child, I now see is a blurred line.  So, rather than strive for normal, I desire health, happiness, and inner peace.  I want to laugh, sing, dance, eat or not eat, without the “normal police”.  Because, for me, normal was designed to be out of reach. 

So, today, I am the woman laughing in a silent room. You know, the lady in the bathroom stall yelling “uh, you may wanna find another one because this may take a while.”  The friend dancing on the table at a party, without one drop of alcohol. The irritating customer at the restaurant asking the waitress about all the ingredients before ordering.  The annoying woman playfully burping in the mirror or licking her thumb and sticking it in a friend’s ear.  The annoying person in the store dancing through the aisle to music no one else hears.  The playful wife challenging her husband to a game of dutch oven, or greeting him when he returns home from work by jumping out the closet in a mask like a burglar.  Yep, those are all me.  See, I go the extra mile to build myself up, so when the world tries to tear me down I still remain whole.  I have chosen to embrace life outside of normal, because it was happening anyway.  I didn’t choose this body, personality, or all that comes with them.  But, I have chosen to try and at least enjoy the adventures they get into. 

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