Normal, Am I normal? Are you normal? Who is the judge of what is normal? And what does being normal mean?
As I look around in the Brisbane Airport waiting for my flight I can see plenty of people who appear normal, sitting drinking their coffee, chatting with friends or family, looking comfortable in a crowd, perfectly assimilating into society.
Are they all normal and am I the odd-one out?
One thing I have learned from my own mental health journey is, that looks can be deceiving. Things may appear normal from the outside but you can never know what someone has or is currently going through.
People all around us are struggling just to get through each minute of the day, struggling to keep it together, struggling to look and act normal.
Why do I know a bit about this? Because I too have sat there looking out at the world trying to look and appear normal. Hoping that no-one would notice that I was struggling like crap just to keep it all together.
Not knowing how to get through the day or what I was doing with my mess of a life.
After going through this hell personally I now make it my business to help others get through their tough times, and let me tell you, there is no real guideline for what normal is.
Normal is yours to make, it is what you are comfortable with and you are the judge of your own normality no-one else. Yes, you read it right, you are your judge of what’s is normal in your life nobody else.
Always remember my normal is different to your normal which is different to the next persons normal. And you know what?
That is perfectly ok!
It is ok not to feel ok sometimes, not to know all the answers, not to want to talk to anyone for a bit or be in control of where you are in your life right now.
Accepting that sometimes you will have interludes in your life where you are not totally in control of what is happening is ok. But it is important to foster the belief that things will change, things will get better and all you must do to facilitate this is to keep getting up every day and putting one foot in front of the other no matter how small the steps are.
Three steps forward, eights steps back, it doesn’t matter. Turning up for life each day and taking those small steps will get you there eventually. Speaking from personal experience I can vouch for this type of approach and its benefits.
No, it’s not easy but it works.
Eventually you will get through it and you will get to your version or normal. Will it be the normal you once had, the normal you experienced before the event that changed your life? Maybe not, but that is not always such a bad thing. Sure, the new version of you may be different to the old version, but it is still you deep down just with some extra life experiences.
Had I not have been through my own mental health challenges I would not be in the position I am today to assist others. I am not the same person I was before, but I have learned to accept that and get on with my life.
We need to stop being so concerned about putting on a normal front for other people, because I can assure you that if you scratched the surface with the large majority of those perceived normal people sitting around you, you would be quite surprised.
Current statistics tell us that each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. So have a look around next time you are sitting at a coffee shop and do the numbers, there is a strong possibility that quite a few people in the crowd are doing it tough and simply trying to appear normal.
My suggestion, the sooner we as society can accept that there is no set mould for being normal the sooner we will fit more comfortably in our own skins and with our own situation.
I have let go of the obsession of appearing or being normal for the sake of others. I no longer look at people and judge them about being normal even if they appear from the outside to have it all together, because looks can be deceiving.
Isn’t about time we all stopped trying so hard to appear normal? Because normal is boring!
Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
Mental Health | Educator |Speaker |Writer