Despite being blessed with a relatively happy and simple life (don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of trials but never yet anything I couldn’t handle) I have always found myself the bearer of discontent. It can strike at any moment, or simmer in the background over days, weeks of my life and usually doesn’t make any noticeable impact. It’s just this niggling, itching thought that maybe I should be doing ‘more’ with my life. That something isn’t quite right.
Now some might say this is my subconscious telling me to get on with some serious self-exploration; that life is showing me a need for change. But I can honestly say that after a few years of moving, travelling, changing jobs and building a new life, I am actually rather ready for some stability! I even wrote a post recently about allowing ourselves to be satisfied with ‘just enough‘ and I believe every word, so why the discontent?
Because I was never prepared to be Normal.
And right now my life is wonderfully, joyously, exorbitantly Normal. I work in a Normal office, do a Normal job (that takes no special qualifications or skills) and live in a Normal terraced house (two-up, two-down) on a busy little Normal High Street. I got married to a Normal(ish) husband this Spring and am now his Normal wife. I became a rather Normal Aunt to my lovely Normal Niece and have recently become co-signatory to a Normal Joint Bank Account. I go to the local pub when I fancy a night out and I spend most evenings doing the dishes and catching up on iPlayer.
All these are what make my current life so pleasant and are a big relief from the rather fractious elements that made up the life I lived before. I am happier now than I ever was living in a Big City and trying to work a job in the Entertainment industry. But I am also undeniably Normal.
And that was never never the Plan…
As a child I knew that one day, when I grew up, I would be different. Not famous or wealthy or even particularly successful; just different. I wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of my father or mother, I wouldn’t stay in the sleepy town I was born in and work in a shop or an office; I would move away, see the sights, live and work in a completely different environment that would excite me and feed all my Abnormal needs.
I knew that I was Abnormal because people told me so. And if they didn’t say it to me then I’d hear them say so to my parents. Endlessly.
“Gosh, she’s different.”
“Nothing like her sister!”
“Where does she get that from?!”
And my parents would smile and nod and agree enthusiastically:
“Well, she’s always been like that…always done things her own way.”
Then I went to school and the teachers all told my parents how bright I was, how special I was, how I could do anything I wanted and how I would obviously go far.
When my parents weren’t there the other kids would tell me I was different in their own way. I knew I was Abnormal because that was the only viable reason why they would all ignore me, smirk at me, laugh at me and why some of them seemed to downright hate me. Don’t get me wrong I was never bullied too badly, never beaten or shamed hard enough to warrant intervention; but like many bright and enthusiastic kids with a dream I was deemed too Abnormal to be accepted. So I kept to the outskirts, hung out with a few of the other Abnormal kids and came to wear my difference – my Not-Normal-ness – as a badge of honour.
By college I was wearing that badge with pride, expressing my Abnormality with crazy clothes, crazier friends and diving into my dream life shaped by a rather Abnormal career choice – Acting. When I managed to get to the Big Smoke and into drama school I knew I was on my way. All the pressure, all the worry, all the expectation to be something MORE than Normal was about to pay off and it would make all the hard work, the nightmare school days and endless self-flagellation worth it.
Except it didn’t.
The career wasn’t what I wanted, wasn’t what I’d expected at all. And the lifestyle that came with it was Abnormal alright but not in a ‘cool-and-unique’ kind of way but more of a ‘messed-up-and-miserable’ kind of way.
So I left it; abandoned the Abnormal and embraced Normality with open arms. And it has paid off. I am happy now, truly happy and I have hope for the future, something that was in short supply a few years ago. That one choice has made all the struggles of a dying dream feel no less painful but certainly made them seem worthwhile.
Still I can’t seem to shake that niggling, itching rub of discontent.
And I think it’s because that 13-year-old girl, who spent her nights learning lines and trying not to think about picking teams in P.E. tomorrow, feels like I’ve cheated her out of a dream. You see, all she can feel is the pain and the anguish of being young and ostracised and alone and the only thing keeping her going is knowing that what they say to her doesn’t matter because one day, one day she’s going to be special, be different and she’ll be nothing like them. She can take it all because she’s not Normal like them.
Some days her betrayal is hard to bear.
“What is exhausting is only wanting one thing.
What is exhausting is secretly believing I deserve it.”
Those two lines basically sum up everything I’ve just said, but I wanted to share my story because it can help knowing there are folks out there who think the same (seemingly impossible) things as you. Her post is great too and well worth a read.