When my wife and I first began dating, I think it may have been the second date when she looked at me and said, “You are an unapologetic geek.”
I had, long before, accepted how much of a geek I am. This has been a recurrent theme across my life. There was, of course, a time when I didn’t accept this aspect of myself so readily, and I was making multiple attempts to be more normal.
What’s so great about normal, anyhow?
What IS normal?
This is a question that I know I am not alone in asking. What I have gathered in my research of the human psyche is that normal is someone who does things that are expected by society.
For example, I am given to believe that a “normal” forty-something guy like me works a 9–5 job, has a wife and a kid or two, owns a house, golfs, plays tennis or racketball or such, watches pro sports, and may or may not have a “man cave” where he escapes to do so with or without a bunch of his buddies.
Let’s see how I do not meet this. My job is not a normal 9–5 job, my wife and I have no kids and that will not change, we rent an apartment because we don’t want a house. I do not golf or play that sort of sport — I do medieval fencing; I don’t watch pro sports, and I have an office/library — not a “man cave.”
By this definition, I am NOT normal.
I have never been normal. My mom, with nothing but good intentions, sought to do several things in my youth to help me be more normal.
Step into my Wayback Machine
My childhood, in the 1970s and ’80s, was not, for the time period, normal. This was for several reasons. The reasons included:
- Ours was the only single-parent family in the neighborhood
- Mine were the only divorced parents among my social groups
- We were the only Jewish family in our predominantly Lutheran Minnesota neighborhood
- I was a fat kid who was a slow runner and not very good at sports
- When I hit puberty I never quite sprouted up and remained a head shorter than the other guys
- I traveled cross-country to New York or Arizona to visit family during various holiday breaks
I never quite fit in with the local Jewish community, nor among the kids in my neighborhood (who were, admittedly, either a couple of years older or younger than me by-and-large). So I played by myself a lot, imagining adventures where my swingset turned into my starship, or my Star Wars action figures continued the stories after the films.
As I got into my teens my mom had concerns about my oddities. So she took a couple of steps to be the “cool” mom. She encouraged me to grow my hair out (this meant, don’t laugh, I had a serious mullet going). One afternoon at the mall, when I was 16, she harangued me into getting my ear pierced (my left ear, mind you — which back then, on a guy, meant you were straight).
So really, my mom WAS the cool mom. But none of these things would make me become normal.
Letting the freak flag fly
When I got to college, I made several attempts to be more “normal.” Granted, majoring in theatre and minoring in audio production and art history didn’t lend themselves to this. I did the 4-year thing, got a BA degree…and emerged into the real world utterly unsure what to do next.
Over the course of the following decade or so I attempted to get a “normal” job, have a “normal” relationship, and push my geeky, oddball tendencies into the background. In the process, I got lost in the background noise of that place where you are trying to be something you are not while still holding onto who and what you are.
I still did the medieval reenactment thing. It was in the 10 years after college that I began to get into the hooky-spooky, energy work, Reiki, and writing fantasy. Yet I was still trying to be “normal.”
Then I got hit by a car while crossing the street. This near-death experience forced me to spend a year of my life recovering, which opened me up to understanding the notion and practice of conscious reality creation.
After my recovery, I still made multiple attempts to do the “normal” routines. I took on 9–5 jobs and made more attempts at relationships. But really, I was leading a dual life. There was this semi-normal me versus the abnormal me.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when it happened, most likely after the sessions with my last, best therapist in my early to mid-thirties, that I stopped resisting being not normal, and began to let it in. Rather than lead a double life and be “normal” and freaky, I unfurled my freak flag and let my true self be known.
Embracing the not normal
Once I stopped resisting being not normal and embraced it instead, my life began to make a lot more sense to me. I found happiness and contentment that I didn’t even entirely realize I had been looking for.
My circle of friends shifted and became the most solid it had been since high school. I got into good relationships, including (obviously) the one that led to my marriage. Though I still struggled with 9–5 jobs for a time, I started to get employment that was more along the lines of my true skills, before this current run at writing full time.
I stopped trying to be what society considers normal. As such, I don’t watch sports on the weekends — I am either fencing or spending time with friends at a medieval reenactment event, exploring a craft fair and/or just hanging out with my wife watching shows on the Food Network. I can quote far too many movies, including all the Star Wars films, The Princess Bride, most Monty Python films (and skits for that matter), and many more. My friends and I will play roleplaying games like D&D and such when we get together.
The point is, my path in life has never been a normal one, and that is not a bad thing. I have come to embrace who I am, the great big geek, and with that more completely like and even love myself.
This is why being the best YOU that you can be, no matter how normal or abnormal that may be, is entirely right for you, too. It’s ok to choose an unusual path in life, so long as it is right for you.
I am not normal, but I know it, embrace it, and love who it makes me as such.
Do you embrace or repel the not-normal in you?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, whether you are normal or not normal.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on September 25, 2019.