Fighting Against Normal

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

I've been thinking about normal lately.

See, I think part of the reason behind my anxiety is the push I always feel to be and do more

I was always the smart kid in school, and expected do something big. Once I got out of college, I was lost- and truthfully still am. I am working a job that is oddly suited to my needs but doesn't even require a college degree. I've moved into the age where being married is no longer a surprise or accomplishment but a pretty standard state of life. While my daughter is wonderfully unique and my personal journey of motherhood is full of it's own special treasures, parenthood in general is extremely common.

I realize I've been fighting against being...normal. I feel like I have to be so special

This is due to a lot of things.

  • part of it is probably due to being the child of a teen mom
    • I had to do all the things she couldn't do- this pressure did not come from her but it was hinted at by a variety of others
  • part of it is probably due to growing up poor
    • gotta hustle
  • part of it is probably my own natural inclination
    • I could easily have stayed in my hometown and had babies early and never even tried to jump off the hamster wheel but that never felt like an option
  • part of it is being an Army wife
    • 0.45% of the American population has served since 9/11/2001, so even including family members we're still a pretty small minority
  • part of it is being a Christian 
    • there is so much suffering in the world and as a Christian we are supposed to "step out in faith" and "make disciples" and "be the hands and feet of Jesus"
    • if we don't, we are hypocrites 
    • not to mention the general pressure of always feeling like you are representing literally a life-and-death situation (if you are a believer, which I am)
  • part of it is being a modern young woman in the 21st century and surrounded by feminism
    • in a world where you are told it's a privilege to do anything and you're always fighting for something, it sometimes feels like you I have to be everything
      • See: above photo- normal=scary

I grew up in a small town where things often felt like they would never change. Many people had the same goals and never wanted to leave...basically everything described in the song Merry Go Round by Kacey Musgraves.

It was uncomfortable for me. I just didn't fit in there, and I knew that at an early age. I always felt different, and eventually as a teen/young adult I leaned into that difference. 

I purposely chose a college that almost no one from my high school ever attended.

Then I was an Army Wife, and I was out of place in Texas and Colorado too. Not only where we different from the civilian community at large, our internal group of friends were all different from one another. We came from all across the country, from all across the globe. We spoke with different accents and ate different foods and rooted for different sports teams and I loved that.

Even when Hubs & I moved back to North Carolina, we were different.

We didn't move back to our hometown, we were outsiders. We were ex-military. We were just different.

But we've settled in. We've put down roots.

And I think oddly enough that is what created my anxiety.

To combat it I have been pushing myself and keeping myself on a different type of hamster wheel. 7 years later, and I still feel like a failure for not getting into grad school (the first time). I still feel like my career isn't respectable.

Every time I start to get comfortable, I make a life change. I have a baby. I start grad school. I get licensed for foster care.

I don't let myself enjoy the peace of normality.

It can be admirable to hustle, to push yourself, to not give into fear, to do something meaningful even if it's hard. But it's not healthy as a constant state of mind.

There is a common tendency for military service members returning from war to become adrenaline junkies. They race motorcycles, parachute out of airplanes, etc. Their bodies are so used to the constant state of alert that the safety of life at home feels wrong.

I think in a weird way I have my own version of that. 

Normal feels very close to lazy and close-minded, which I never want to be.

I don't know the difference in accepting the natural rhythm of life that includes tough times (which is good) and running around trying to sign up for tough things voluntarily as a kind of safe-guard from being taken by surprise (which is bad). 

There is no nice summary to end this with. I don't have have answer. Just a little hope that acknowledging and working this out for myself may be a first step on the path to an answer. 


    I don't often allow myself to just BE. To enjoy what is happening now. I can always be doing more, can't stop, won't stop.

    In the past few years, I've learned that being bored isn't a bad thing, and school has made me appreciate the boredom. That said, because of school, I also can't do the things I want to do (volunteer mostly) and I'm already making a list of things for myself after I finish school that I want to potentially do. At the same time, it's hard for me to accept that I cannot do things because of school and work right now because I have no time.

    I just can't figure out if this is a bad or good thing. Bad because my brain won't accept that I have no time and to do the thing anyway would cause undue stress or good because when I do have to say no, it's GOOD for me so I don't cause myself undue stress.

  2. Writing it out is always helpful to me.

    It is hard to pull yourself back from tomorrow today. Most people never realize they are doing it.