Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'Normal' Is Just A Setting On The Dryer.

In February, I had the rare opportunity of spending a day shopping with my lovely mom, whom I absolutely adore. We were in a home goods store, perusing the random kitschy items that can usually be found in such a venue when I stumbled upon a sign reading, "Around Here, Normal Is Just a Setting On The Dryer" and ended up buying it; she proudly hung it in her kitchen and, every single time I'm home, I get a good laugh.

This last weekend, I was lucky enough to again be able to spend the day with my mother, hiking around Park City and talking about life, my upbringing, more life, and other random things. Near the end of our hike, we got to talking about what I'll call The Big Lie. Basically, it's my theory that in American society we all try to live by a series of lies perpetuated by fools who believe in The Big Lie. The Big Lie tells us we're all weird but that it's possible to be 'normal' if we just pretend to be happy, buy a bunch of shit we don't need and keep our mouths shut. The Big Lie also contains Other Big Lies, including the Lie about women looking like Barbie dolls in order to achieve physical perfection and the Lie about men who display real emotion not being real men. Lots of Big Lies out there these days. Among those Big Lies is the myth about happiness being a destination, a place you'll reach 'someday' if you follow the rules. Another Big Lie is that everyone had a sterile, 'normal' childhood and you're the only one that's still messed up because you have a messed up family with messed up people. Even bigger than that Big Lie? The Big Lie that says everyone is perfect.

So I'm talking with my mom. And we're talking about what a miserable teenager I was and how I ended up in the juvenile justice system for being a runaway. It was at this point that it hit me: I ran away from home as a young teenager not because my home wasn't (and isn't) a place of love and comfort; I ran away from home to escape The Big Lie and the perpetuating cycle that The Big Lie creates. The craziest part? The first time I saw heroin, it was in a group home. Yeah. You read that right. I saw heroin for the first time while rooming with a girl my age who freebased it and continually offered me some. No, I never tried it. In fact, I was a pretty damn good kid who ended up in the juvenile justice system because of some archaic belief that everyone has to live by the same system of growth. Another Big Lie. Also: I was a thief, which didn't help my cause. Har har.

The discussion with my mom led to a few more truths, which led to more discourse about how we change the perception of perfection and start living like human beings. This is my first step forward.

Time for a little confession: I'm not normal. I'm far from perfect. I'm opinionated and hotheaded. I'm stubborn, outspoken and I can be a real jerk if I get angry enough. I'm too nosy for my own good and I'm a know-it-all. I'm curious and would poke an angry bear if I thought I'd get some answers. I'm bad with money. Like, really, really bad. I also used to be a pretty shitty person. Like, really shitty. Sometimes I have really poor judgement. And I've made a LOT of stupid choices. But guess what? There's also a lot of good in me. And for every bad, awful thing inside of me, there are great moments of shining brilliance where I restore my hope in humanity, just by being myself. I've pulled myself out of a pattern of abuse and neglect and dumb decisions to become someone I LIKE. And The Big Lie says you can't do that. The Big Lie tells us we can't change. The Big Lie says that if we mess up once and we're not 'normal', we're doomed forever. The Big Lie says that teen moms end up on welfare and that felons can't get jobs and high school dropouts are dumb. Guess what? I'm all three. The Big Lie is wrong.

You know what? Fuck The Big Lie. It's a lie. And it doesn't matter if you're purple, blue, green, white, grey or yellow; it doesn't matter if you're straight or gay or bisexual or transgendered or asexual. It doesn't matter if your mom and dad are Nobel winners or alcoholics or doctors or frauds or credible masters of the universe; it doesn't matter. None of it matters. What matters (and what The Big Lie will never tell us) is WHAT WE DO. What matters is how we treat people and ourselves. What matters is the change and the passion and the fight we inspire and the people we help. We matter.

So stop selling yourself short. You matter to me. You're not normal, and it's supposed to be that way. Your dreams matter. Your thoughts and hopes and saddest moments matter, because they're all part of who you are. Embrace that. Embrace every second of life because it's brought you here. We need to celebrate because we're not normal. And that's a good thing.

Guess what else The Big Lie says? The Big Lie says that our fear is there to protect us. It also says that we're not good enough to go for our dreams. The Big Lie says that other people are better than us and that they deserve happiness and success, but we don't. The Big Lie is wrong. Again. Anything (and I mean ANYTHING) is possible. You may have to work your ass off. You'll probably have to cut a few naysayers out of your life. You may even have to scrimp and save and clean toilets and go without and and break some rules. But ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Tell me that cancer is going to kill me. Tell me that getting pregnant at 17 is going to ruin my life. Tell me that having a criminal record (a few times over) will ruin my chances at success and happiness. And I'll tell you you're wrong. Anything and everything is achievable. It'll be painful and it's going to suck more days than it's fun. But that Big Lie? It's still a Big Lie. It will ALWAYS be a Big Lie, no matter who preaches it or lives by it or swears that it'll make you happy and perfect.

I'm not normal. And neither are you. And that's perfectly fucking okay.