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Monday, October 24, 2011

Are you "normal"?

What is "normal" anyways? Who defines "normal" for us? As per Dictionary.com,  the definition of "normal" is: Conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.  
Not being satisfied, I referred to Scholastic's edition of the Children's Dictionary which defined "normal" as: usual or regular; healthy; the usual condition.


Hmmm....ok so I guess that makes sense but I'm still left with my question....who definies what "normal" is? Well! Society does and given that people make up society...we make up society, therefore, the logical conclusion is that we define what "normal" is.


My definition of "normal" is following rules, norms and expectations of society. But the problem is that "we" who make up society, don't all agree on what "normal" is. My "normal" is not necessarily someone else's "normal". 


For example, it is normal for me to expect the space and freedom to live my life on my own terms. It is normal for me to indulge in creativity as an expression of my thoughts and emotions. It is normal for me to dare to dream big in spite of living with depression. It is normal for me to give to those around me. 
It is normal for me to have some of my beliefs, values and ethics be different than those of people around me. I know some things to be true which I know others around me may not necessarily agree with. But that's okay. God made us all unique in His image. We are all HIS children. We come from HIM and we return to HIM. He loves us unconditionally and does not judge us. We judge ourselves and usually we are our worst critics. But we have been granted the privilege of being born to "live" our lives along our individual paths. We are suppose to live our own truths. But to know our own truths, we must know ourselves. We must live authentically. 


But how do we live our own "normal" when we tend to worry soooo much about what others say about us? There is a saying in Hindi that goes, "Log kya kahenge..." which translates into, "What will people say.."  I have found that during the times of my life when I was troubled, it came down to me being concerned about what others were going to say about me, or were already saying about me. And not just that, but what others were going to think about me? And that brings us to our basic human need of wanting to be validated, to be seen, to be heard. All human beings, no matter how old we are, have the basic need to be acknowledged. Unfortunately, many times this translates into wanting and needing the APPROVAL of others. This need of wanting the approval of others limits us in truly living our heart's desires. I'd like to submit to you a different frame of reference. Instead of asking, "What will other's think of me?", we ask ourselves, "What will God think of me?" Just imagine what a different thought process that would be.


Now please know that I am absolutely guilty of "log kya kahenge..." and do get all worried and bothered when I don't have the approval and blessing of people around me. But I've also realized that I am not concerned much about EVERYONE'S opinion of me, but more importantly, I do care that I have the approval and blessing of those that I love and respect. For example, even thought I am a 38 year old grown woman, I still get upset with myself when my mom disapproves of something I might have done or said. It is important to me that I get her blessing. But I also realize that there is a difference between wanting her blessing and needing her approval. And figuring out the difference is the challenge.


Also, I have come to realize that it is important to me to be respected and liked by those whom I respect. But there have been plenty of times, when we disagree on certain things. There are also times when they might not understand or agree with my decision to make certain choices for myself. When put in this situation, I have learned the value of sticking  by my values and ethics. I will NOT compromise my values and my ethics for anyone. I have paid the price of doing that in the past and the cost is myself, my own self worth. Therefore, I absolutely refuse to compromise on my values and ethics. Now realize that I didn't include beliefs in this mix because my beliefs can be changed when I receive new information but my ethics and values make up who I am and what I am about. I like myself and respect myself and have worked very hard over the years to get to the place where I am and thus hold on dearly to that.  But if and when I am placed in a situation where we disagree, I tend to stick to my values and ethics but do surrender to the experience, surrender to life, and surrender to God with the trust that it will ALL work out and it always does. 


A wise friend shared with me something that really has stuck with me through all the years. It was at a time in my life where I felt betrayed by all, including God and couldn't understand why HE was not answering my prayers. My friend explained that it is our responsibility to pray but HIS to answer. He said, "God's answer is not always "yes" or "no", sometimes God's answers are "not now", "maybe later" or "I have a better plan for your life".  :) 


So in conclusion to the ramblings of my head....I know that I am NOT normal. I am unique! I am an individual with unique thoughts and life experiences, and on most days, I have the courage to make choices and face the consequences of my choices, be it positive or negative. And its something that I must remind myself in times when I resort to wanting to be "normal".
I pray that you not be normal :) but unique and beautiful as HE created you! 
I pray that you find the courage to make the sometimes difficult choices to walk your own path.
I pray that you let God work his plan for your life.
I pray that you live each day, seeking HIS approval and blessings, for isn't that the only one that truly matters?


Love and Light,
From one sufi to another
Anita
Another picture of the beautiful Hallandale Beach!

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