For the longest time, my greatest wish in life was to just be normal. I wanted to have friends and to fit in with people my age. I didn’t want to be seen as the weirdo loner or have my own mother look at me like I’m no quite right in the head. Above all else, I didn’t want my own people to look upon me with a mixture of confusion, anger, and ridicule whenever I would try to reach out to them.
Having friends and being accepted somewhere −anywhere!− would have been a dream come true for me. But no matter what I tried or wherever I found myself, I was never able to make any of that a reality. I’d ALWAYS end up as that ‘crazy’ chick that nobody in their right mind would be caught dead associating with. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time alone growing up. And I hated it! I blamed myself for being too . . .um . . . ‘abnormal’ for other people to want to be around. I truly thought that things would stay this way for my entire life.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I started to entertain the possibility that, perhaps, all of this ‘fitting in’ and ‘being normal’ stuff was never meant for me. Maybe I had been way too emotionally attached to this life-long dream of mine. It had never even crossed my mind that I could be fated for something entirely different from virtually everyone around me. What if the thing that I had always thought of as the bane of my existence (whatever it was that made ‘regular’ people want to stay far away from me) was actually an asset? If that was the case, then this thing would be the epitome of the phrase ‘blessing in disguise?’ That’s one hell of a blessing! And what if all of that social isolation I suffered through throughout my teens was supposed to be some sort of quarantine from . . .something?
I would have to come back and ponder all of these things and more at a later time because there was something else I needed to do first. I needed to completely let go of my decade-long dreams of finally achieving normalcy, peer acceptance, and all that such things entailed. It was time to face the fact it just wasn’t going to ever happen. So I pulled the plug on the whole thing so that it could finally rest in peace and I could go about finding my true destiny in life. Yes, it was going to be a long grieving process but at least I’d only have to go through it once.
*How I Handled the 5 Stages of Grief*
*Stage 1: Shock and Denial
Though I had ceased to be shocked a long time ago, there was still a certain degree of denial. Totally explains why I would hold on to such an ill-fated dream for so long. But it was definitely way past time to give up the ghost. There was just no way in hell I was ever going to be able to pull off any semblance of normal at this point in the game, especially not the ‘black’ version of normal. (Yes, that’s a thing!) Looking back over my life up to that point made me realize that I had already exposed myself to far too much: video games, anime, different languages, history, literature, documentaries, and DIFFERENT GENRES OF MUSIC. (I put that last one in all caps because it’s the most important.)
It was impossible for me to even sound like these ‘normal’ people. I used to get mocked and laughed at in my younger years for how I spoke in my younger years on a regular basis. It didn’t occur to me just how different I sounded until beginning my cashiering duties and routinely being asked “Are you from here?” by the customers passing through my lines. It was, and still is, a bit bizarre and very telling.
*Stage 2: Anger
The only person I ever truly got angry with was myself. First, for being unable to mold myself into someone ‘acceptable’ and then for wasting so much time trying to stuff myself into a mold I was never going to fit into. I wasted over a decade, a decade that I will never get back!
*Stage 3: Bargaining
“If I just did a better job at finding out what was truly wrong with me and working harder to change it (or at least hide it better), then I could be a normal person. Just like everyone else.” I spent the whole decade I mentioned earlier telling myself things like this and now it was finally time for me to stop. I realized that if none of my efforts were working after all of that time then they were never going to get me the results I wanted so desperately.
*Stage 4: Depression
This is where the actual grieving began for me. I would have to at last face the fact that there would forever be this sense of disconnection between me and a large majority of people, especially family members. Facing all of the feelings of loneliness and isolation I had been trying to escape for so long . . .could have been worse, actually. Maybe it was true what people had been saying for years: “Running just makes it worse.”
I learned an important lesson about losing things that I regarded as precious, no matter how trivial they turned out to be. It was that those things should always be properly mourned in order to be fully let go of. Hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
*Stage 5: Acceptance
After the last remnants of sadness faded away for good, I found myself smack-dab in the middle of this stage of grief. I didn’t really concern myself about becoming instantly happy because I was too busy enjoying not being miserable at all anymore. I was at peace with myself and the world; it was a deep and long-lasting peace I hadn’t experienced in practically forever.
I had never noticed how much mental energy I had been wasting on all of this foolishness. I generated so much anxiety and worrying about whether or not I was indeed deeply flawed somehow. Maybe that was the reason for all of that anxiety. And maybe that’s why I always felt so tired . . .well, that along with being royally out of shape and eating a horrendous diet.
Just like that, it was over. No more ‘normal’, no more trying (and failing!) to be something I wasn’t. Letting go of all my hopes and dreams of feeling accepted was of the most liberating experiences of my life . . .so far. My only regret is waiting so long to do it and I can only imagine what my life would have been like if that had been the case. Would I have found a purpose in life sooner? Would I still have become The Bored Cashier? Could my life have turned out completely different? Barring an encounter with an alternate version of myself from a different dimension, I’ll never know the answers to these questions. Speaking of questions, there was one that I’d never even considered asking: what would being ‘normal’ actually mean?