In high school I remember making a list of places I had to travel to in my lifetime, while one of my best friends made pretend wedding invitations.
Without making a conscious effort, I have stood out. I’ve been labelled everything from hippie to feminist, tree-hugger to hipster queen. People have called me basically anything that could identify me as someone who yearns for more than the status quo.
And I have spent years mulling over why I can’t just be normal.
Don’t get me wrong, I got my driver’s license at 16, went to my senior prom, and graduated high school and college at decent ages. But when it comes to life goals and dreams – mine have never quite matched those of my peers.
So here’s to all those fellow nonconformists who have gone through their entire life questioning why they can’t just be like everybody else. This is for those of us who voluntarily wore mismatched clothing as kids, and who maybe still do.
This goes out to those of us who don’t fantasize about Pinterest weddings, or the names of our future children. To those of us who thrive on adventure, change, and spontaneity. And to those who have always been labelled as flighty, non-committal, irresponsible — or the nice way to say these things – “free-spirited.”
You are you for a reason. If you get excited about antique books, teaching English in Thailand, or watching a football game, embrace it. You should never have to apologize for whatever it is that makes you tick.
Stop hanging around people who don’t accept you just the way you are.
If you are constantly feeling like you “don’t fit-in,” maybe it’s time to start hanging out with different people. If you’re dating someone who wants a big house, a six-figure job, and two kids — who doesn’t “get” your desire to move to Uganda to work in an orphanage — you should probably end the relationship. Soon.
Embrace your individuality.
With the social media revolution, everyone’s life is one giant glass box. It’s nearly impossible to avoid comparing yourself to a former co-worker or someone you used to play soccer with. But allowing yourself to wander down the black hole of self-loathing has to stop. You will never feel fulfilled in your life if you’re constantly comparing it to someone else’s. Own whatever it is that makes you, you — and rock the heck out of it.
If your ideal weekend is exploring a new city or revelling in a good book and a delicious cup of coffee on your couch, do it. You have one life to live, so make the most of it.
It has taken me almost 26 years to finally come to terms with the fact that my life is never going to look like my friends’ lives. I’m not married, I don’t have kids, and I don’t even have a paying job.
I’m a missionary, living in Haiti. And I’m loving life more than I ever have before. My life is so far from normal, but I’ve accepted that and I’ve found an incredible amount of joy and freedom.
So I’m never going to be normal. But what’s normal anyway? And is it really something to aspire to?
Photo (Flickr CC) by Gustavo Gomes.