On the shelf

There is, apparently, no such thing as ‘normal’.
Ask everyone in a group to define or describe what normal means, and they’ll either all come up with something different, or in the process they’ll realise there are so many variations in us all that they’ll realise themselves that there’s no such thing.

The more I go through life, the more I discover just how many of us are striving to be ‘normal’, or to attain a version of life or ourselves that somehow fits with that label.
Equally, how many of us mentally beat up ourselves up over the feeling, or fear, that we do not meet the requirements to be ‘normal’?

So much of film, television and social conditioning would tell us that normal means being married, either with children or dreaming of them, owning your own home, having a job, having a wonderful group of friends, having it goddam all.

How many people don’t fit that mould though? Does that mean you’re scuppered if you’re, say, gay, or childless, or unemployed or lonely?
Are those of us who don’t fit the mould destined to be social outcasts? Just because we don’t fit into some vague stereotype of a ‘normal’ that many of us would struggle to even describe?

Even writing this, I am increasingly aware of just how hard it is to describe normal.
And yet, I know that if I could describe it, I wouldn’t be it.

Someone once said to me that it can be way too hard and overwhelming to ever be able to describe what you do want from a romantic partner and instead it is much easier to work out what you don’t want and then take it from there.
So using the same theory, I can’t describe what I think normal is, but I can think of the ways whatever normal is, I am not it.
I am mid-thirties, I am single, I am not dating, I’m not especially bothered if I ever get married and decidedly unsure if I ever want children. I enjoy my own company and yet I feel lonely sometimes too. I work hard, and yet I’ve never thought of myself as career-obsessed. I am not thin, I am not fat. I am not ugly, I am not beautiful. I have friends, I have few close friends in a similar situation to me.

In many respects, I feel like I have been left on the shelf in life. Like everyone around me has found some magic formula for happiness or love or whatever-it-is.
In contrast, I go through each day trying that bit too hard or feeling that bit too lost. I watch others from a distance, wondering if it will always be from a distance, if I’ll always be left sitting on the shelf, waiting for it all to change.

I go through life, every day questioning myself about a myriad of things, reminding myself that if I were a bit more normal I might not feel quite so much like I don’t fit in.
And then I think ‘oooh, I’ll write a blog’ and I start my first post making it all about how I’m not normal and then I realise I can’t even describe normal to start with.

Becoming a blogger about something I can’t even describe. Brilliant.
That’s not normal – right?


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