I’m Uncommon, but I’m Fine with That
When I do ordinary things, I feel like being on the way to nothing.
I’m resetting my life, in this period. After many busy years, I’ve been forced to suddenly stop the carousel. I’m deciding what’s next and it takes some time because it has to do with disappointments and life dreams.
My mother does not ask what I’m doing nowadays. For her, it’s absolutely clear I’m doing nothing. No need to ask. She’s just certain of what will follow, and she remembers it to me occasionally: “of course, you will have to look for new clients”. The fact that I’m done with my previous occupations and that I want to restart toward my last occasion in life to do what I already should have done is not a concept she can understand, so I’m not trying to explain.
My wife understands, to some extent. She understands my choice, but not what I exactly mean to do. Fair enough, as I don’t know what’s going to happen myself. Anyway, we have very different perspectives, and mine may sound unreasonable, so I cannot pretend to be understood.
I’m not exactly “normal”. But I’m not a bad or unreliable guy. I have a reassuring look and usually behaves responsibly. However, when I do ordinary things, I often feel like being on the way to nothing.
I sought acceptance, for a long time. Up to a point, it still happens, but that does no more drive me. That — along with other common issues — prevented me from going straight to my goals. I took other roads, commonly appealing.
“Normal… What the majority of people look, act, and talk and like. So what if the majority became what we see as weird now? Would our normal, become our new weird?”
— Catherine of Genoa
For me, “normal” — talking about attitude — sounds more like lazy thinking, lack of growth, convenient point of view, passing the time. I’m uncomfortable with it. The best of me is not there. Going deep, being critical, creating something, inventing have nothing to do with normality. I don’t think that Gutenberg or Gandhi were in search of normality. All great persons have challenged the norm, with an uncommon vision.
“Just about everything in life is common sense, anything outside that is the beginning of extraordinary.”
— Ray Mancini
Even though I have uncomfortable feelings about “normality” I don’t believe that “normal” is bad in general. It’s all about what you want in your life. If you want normal things, normal is ok. If you have values, and these values are common, that’s ok too. If you don’t know what you want, conformism and transgression are equally useless.
Simply, if you have uncommon goals, common ways will not take you there. At some point, you have to go off road.
Dogs bark at odd things
Our instinct evolved in other eras. Two options. Black or white. Safety or danger. Quick decisions. Quick judgments. Normal is ok; all other cases are pathological. Many educated people still have not overcome this instinct. Up to a point, none of us did.
“Almost everyone prefers normality because normality brings comfort and security. But when you think about it, normality hinders the reason why you are on this earth.”
— Euginia Herlihy
Behaving or thinking differently attracts attention. Even when you are comfortable and hurts no one they will try to heal you, exclude you, or hinder you. Acceptance is rare. Help, even more rare.
Still, some novelty may go through.
Normality is boring
In a sense, being different is appreciated. Maybe you don’t want your home to be normal. You want it to be special. If you dressed for a crazy night, I suppose that “you look so conventional” is not what you want to hear. The originality which does not threaten us, nor poses big challenges, is welcome.
The boundary between spicing up and being weird is personal. But, usually, the fence is not far.
In some cases, people want to escape or be noticed and considered special. They may be excessive, put on the clown mask or slip into shady things. May become dangerous.
But doing things out of boredom or just to be noticed is not very attractive to me. That has nothing to do with expressing the best of you. This is just another face of superficiality. The easy and sterile way out of your corner in life. Maybe a life made of nothing.
You will hurt someone
Anytime we relate with someone there is a potential conflict, in the long term. If our goals and values are uncommon, conflicts won’t be small.
Being different has nothing to do with extravagance, cheap transgression, novelty. It’s about what you want in life. It’s about your own perspective. It’s about hard decisions. It’s about giving value to your goals. It’s about making efforts. It’s about tough changes.
Sooner or later, this will conflict with others. It will hurt your loved ones.
Choosing uncommon ways involves additional responsibility, to us and to others.
Can you do that? Do you want to do that? Can you sacrifice your true self? Are you simply mad?
Tough questions. Tough answers. But denying the best of you will have consequences anyway.
There’s a famous Zen story:
A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go.
Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse replied “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
That’s my problem with normality. They all seem to do important things. I simply want to know where I’m going, and to go there. And to know it’s worth it.