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  • Writer's pictureHaulwen Nicholas

What is Normal?

"My darling girl, when are you going to realise that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage." - Aunt Frances from Practical Magic when Sally Owens says "all I want is a normal life"

How many of you think this?

How many of you think, I actually don't want to be normal but then find yourself inadvertently conforming due to your people pleasing nature?

And what actually is normal?

According to the Oxford living dictionary normal means "Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected."

How many of us have done what is typical for someone with our particular background, or what is expected of us, or what people usually do.

We go through the motions of life and don't even realise how we are "conforming" to things that we don't naturally want to agree with. But it's what we do.

I've been prone to this, even though I've never felt like anyone around me, and felt as though I have always been the outsider looking in.

Would I say I was normal? When I compare myself to women of my age in my area I am not the same as them and they are not the same as each other. And I like that I am quite different to them, however I also know that I have grown up to be a people pleaser and have done what I thought was "expected of me" rather than following my dreams.

It's funny how we fall in to our own traps. I strive to not be "normal" and my home, my clothing, my look etc aren't. However I have generally done what is expected of me. Be a good girl, keep quiet, look after your parents, be helpful, follow the money career path, etc, etc.

Then there are the people who I know strive for normal - they watch the same TV shows as everyone else in their office to "fit in". They dress like everyone else to "fit in". They don't raise their head above the parapet. Yet they are sometimes the ones not doing what is expected of them, but what they want to do. 

We can never judge a book by its cover and can never judge a person by their exterior features.

When I was having my tattoo done, it really made me think about how we can judge people on what is deemed normal and what isn't.

I've worked in many companies where tattoo's are frowned upon, even recently, and have seen the prejudice when someone walks in with tattoo's and piercings. Everyone has a different perspective - for me it would peak my interest. They'd applied for a job working in the food industry, in companies known for being the "grey suit brigade", and turned up for an interview with tattoo's on show and piercings. I employed a number of these people over the years and they've gone on to do great thing. Yet I saw HR departments and other managers dismiss them as reckless and "not the sort of person we want here, as they weren't normal"

I have 3 tattoo's and its interesting that this is one area I did what was "expected" of me. I have a tattoo on my hip (gemini symbol) a moon on my shoulder. But I knew to go further than this and have anything more visible would hinder my career prospects. So even though I wanted more, not for anyone just for me, I held back.

Now, 2 years since I left the corporate world, I am I still letting go of some of these "expectations", but I can also see how I went to extremes to get away from the "expected norms" as well.

I'm currently selling lots of clothes and shoes on eBay - and now I can see how I hid my own insecurities and my own frustrations on not being true to me by buying really quirky clothing. My wardrobe was full of quirky fun dresses for work, but the sort I could get away with and I still love, but also big skirts and dresses that I'd wear at weekends. I looked like a character from a fairytale book. And it was my way of sticking 2 fingers up to the world for the "norm" I was behaving, but also a way to hide myself.

I know lots of people with lots of tattoo's and piercings who have really low self esteem. The art is a way to hide themselves from the world around them. It might sound weird, but many a goth, cos player etc can use these outfits as their own mask, to hide their true self. People focus on what a person is wearing, how they have their hair, the tattoo's on their arms, their legs, the piercings through their nose, their chin and they make judgements. They don't look deeper, the don't look within.

What if we could focus on people being true to themselves, rather than the "norm". What if we could look beyond the exterior of clothing, decoration, skin colour, gender, race and realise we are all heart and all soul. All lovers, dreamers, thinkers, feeling sort, all full of our own unique magic and wonder. 

It's taken me 2 years since leaving the corporate world to get to where I am now. I'm selling the clothes I hid behind, clothes I thought were me, but were yet another mask. I'm no longer ashamed to show my body, to wear a dress that fits me and show my arms, my legs, my figure. That is who I am. I am no longer worried about having visible tattoo's and who knew that tattoo's could still be so taboo when so many people now have them.

I know now that me being true to me, can also allow me to help others to be true to them.

We look for mirrors to look in, within other people. We look for a connection and as I've mentioned before a tribe to be part of.

It's hard to drop what is expected of us - to be married with 2.2 kids living in suburbia by a certain age. And society can be cruel to those who choose or do not choose to fit the "norms". The news media being some of the worst offenders for making us feel like we "aren't doing what we should".

I find the world a strange place - I'm brave for embracing my greys (we shouldn't do that), I'm brave for quitting my job and running my own business, I'm brave because I don't wear lots of make up, I'm brave because I've sold my heels and only wear Dr Martens, I'm brave for driving a landrover! - None of these are brave things, they are just me, and are only seen by some as brave because they are not "the thing a 44 year old woman should be doing".

For me being brave is dealing with true life trauma's and believe me I've done my share of them. Yet I'm never called brave for these acts. No then I am the "good girl"

I am often described by people as the 'nice young lady or nice young woman" - always polite, always helpful, always kind. It's nice, but I know those same people who accept my quirky hair, my quirky vehicle, my Dr Martens, will slight frown at that tattoo. Because although I can be a little quirky, there is a line to be drawn. 

I will not be doing what is expected of me going forward.

I will continue my journey of reconnecting with my inner wise woman and making her my outer true self until the day I die.

I will be true to my values and beliefs and do you know what, I will still do things "expected of me" but I will strive to make them part of what I want.

If you could do one thing away from normal, away from what is expected of you. What would that be?


The Magical Mojo Coach

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