I’ve felt like an outsider quite often in my life. Whether I’ve been a fifth wheel or a freak, I’ve had plenty of times when I’ve felt out of place. And sometimes, I desperately want to fit in – to be one of Them. Sometimes, I just want to be normal. And lately I’ve come to a bit of a revelation:
Man, fuck normal. I’m going to be extraordinary.
So many of the things I’ve tried to learn in the past few years have been centered around smoothing out my edges – trying to be more a part of whatever crowd I’m courting. But it’s never made me happy. I just get frustrated, and eventually the entire situation leaves me feeling resentful.
I had a post a while back where I wrote about cost efficiency, a concept I learned from video games, and how I try to apply it to real life. And trying to become “normal” makes me think of another gaming concept: character customization, specifically emphasizing strengths over filling in weaknesses.
Filling in weaknesses is a good idea, on paper. You create a character to be more well-balanced and versatile. However, a jack of all trades is also a master of none. In most gaming situations, you do not want characters that perform averagely at all tasks. It’s usually better to specialize: one character is a durable fighter, while another is a magician whose only form of defense comes from cloth robes. In some games, you can customize those “clothies” to be more durable, but it always come at a cost. A balanced clothie will never produce the same level of damage as one who specialized in damage. And while the damage clothies are affectionately referred to as “glass cannons”, it is always the priority of a good party, raid, or guild to protect their glass cannons during a fight.
So how does any of this apply to life and the real world?
I’m not good with social graces. I’m usually one of the wallflowers in any given the room. And I could work on that – try to get out more often, challenge myself to strike up conversations with people, and break out of my shell. That sounds like great advice actually, on paper.
But the time and energy I spend on that takes away from other areas of my life. Social events I attend take me away from my writing, and they’re sometimes so emotionally draining that I’m exhausted even before I get to the event in question. That means I’ve lost energy before I get there, and I lose time afterwards putting myself back together. Then I do it again and again and again, trying to eventually get it right.
They DO say insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results, so…
What can I do about my little problem?
- Do things that you really want to do
Doing something for practice is good, but that doesn’t mean each and every scenario is equal and interchangeable. I don’t drink beer, so spending time at parties with a lot of people who are into home brewing is perhaps not a good idea – especially if the only reason I’m there is to “talk with people”. It might be better for me to hang out at a gaming store or take a writing workshop. That way I can practice, if I really want to, but the real reason I’m there would be because I want to be and I’m actually interested in what people are saying.
- Do things that emphasize and improve on your strengths
If I want to be a writer, I could spend my time writing instead of trying to force practice conversations. Or I could read books, watch movies, take classes, study – anything that exposes me to stories and story-writing. All these could be better things to do over sticking my square self into a round situation and hoping it turns out better this time.
- Do things you really need to do
I could work out, stretch, do yoga – anything to improve my health. And all of these are things I enjoy doing that will improve the quality of my life, without trying to force myself into the mold of being “normal.”
- Say, “Fuck it!”
Think of the famous people you know – how many of them had quirks and idiosyncrasies that set them apart from the crowd. And did the world really judge them in the end? Probably not! The world embraced these people who had the nerve to say, “You’ll never make me any less than I am!” Self-love sometimes requires us to look at the situation in question, and throw it the bird. And I think it’s far better to focus on loving yourself for who you are, than to try to change so that others might like you.
So, fuck it. I’m gonna stop trying to be normal, and start being awesome. And good luck to all the naysayers, because I’m gonna be too busy being me to listen.
P.S. Here’s a comic I found this week, on Chloe C’s GoGetARoomie, that hit me right in the normal feels. (This page is SFW, the rest of this story is slightly more NSFW at times. It is awesome at all times though, IMO.)