Thursday, November 3, 2016
I love quotes. Inspiring ones, silly ones, smartassy ones. But if I had to pick just one, it would be this incredibly simple one by Charles M Schultz.
Why? Well, quite frankly, I'm different. I always have been. I grew up knowing I was different, though not knowing how. Occasionally it bothered me. Most of the time I didn't think much of it. But as I got older, I thought more and more of it. I realized how different I was in so many ways. And the more I noticed it, the more it bothered me. I asked myself why I was so different. For all that I knew it, I couldn't really place my finger on it. The more this eluded me, the more angst it caused me. It was a self-perpetuating cycle. One that threw me occasionally into pretty dark places.
As my condition started to become more evident to those around me (it was always evident on some level to me), they noticed it to. I faced a lot of "Why can't you just be normal" comments. A lot of, "Normal people aren't like that. Normal people don't think that way or feel that way or act that way. You're (crazy/delusional/irrational/pick you're stigmatizing descriptive). For a long time, even after I was diagnosed, I tried to defend myself, telling they were wrong, I was normal, even with this illness. I tried to explain my words, feelings, actions and why people should find them acceptable. I tried and tried to justify them to people who didn't want to hear it. People who'd already passed judgement on me for one reason or another. I watched it in numerous aspects of my life and I rallied against it time and again. And then finally, I stopped.
I'm not sure exactly when or how it happened. But one day, I realized I was able to take a less negatively biased look at myself and my life. I thought about the people who told me that my blogging and advocacy inspired them and made them feel supported. I thought about the friends who laughed at my quirky humor and awkward but apparently endearing antics. I replayed all the conversations I'd had with others close to me in which we could completely relate to each other, in which I realized what they liked about my was my differences. And I stopped caring so much. The veneer of needing to fit into a mold began to crack.
I won't be so brave as to say I never care. I won't claim that I absolutely love having a mental health condition and I'd never, ever hope to be "normal." Because quite honestly that's BS. At least as it relates to me. There are times that I wish I reacted to individual situations more normally. Like not feeling like I'm going to piss my pants out of fear every time I have to interact in a group setting. Or not breaking down crying out of nowhere in the middle of walking my dog or watching tv or cooking dinner. Or not having an anxiety attack while parallel parking, as I posted about the other day. There are times that it is still maddeningly frustrating when a way of looking at something is so obvious to me, and yet the person I'm talking to can't possibly see it. It's like me pointing at the sky and saying "It's blue," and them saying "No it's bright green. Why can't you see that?" Because life does feel that way sometimes.
But I've learned to embrace my differences more fully. I've learned that I'm a creative person, and that I often express myself best through writing or vision boarding or dance or even just doodling (because what I do could not possibly be considered drawing or art - not even modern art). I've learned that I see life in pictures, in snapshots instead of in a step by step manner. I can now explain this to people who don't see how I'm approaching a situation. It doesn't always work, but at least I can offer an explanation to bridge some of the gap. I've learned that in the right company, I can share my completely random thoughts and they'll be appreciated (like the recent time I told my boyfriend out of the blue that if our dog had a creative art it would be interpretive dance). And so I now surround myself with only the right company (when I have any control of the company, that is).
In the end of the day, I may not have a lot of talents or enviable skill sets. But I've become significantly more comfortable with being myself. And in fact, I've decided that's a pretty valuable skill to have. Because after all, it's one of the very few things in life that you can't do wrong.