Out Of The Cocoon Of Normalcy

Are you normal? Or are you not? Do you fit in? Or do you stand out? And whatever it is that you are, do you ever wish you were the other?

These are questions that I personally have struggled with my entire life. Honest-to-God I truly believe I come from an alien race and they just planted me with my earthly family as a science experiment; something to allow me to experience “normal” life on this planet. As opposed o whatever abnormal life existed on my home planet.

See?? You’re already shaking your head saying that Vickie is a nut-job! You are most likely correct.

But what exactly IS normal?

Dictionary.com says it’s “the quality or condition of being normal, as the general economic, political, and social conditions of a nation; normality”.
Synonyms: ordinariness, uniformity, averageness, commonality, regularity.

Well okay then. I guess if you’re “normal” you “do” what society expects you to “do”, you live your life according to preconceived notions and mores, you subscribe to “traditional” standards and lifestyles, you play by the book.

That would be the book that somebody wrote long before you were dropped off your flying saucer and long before you kept your poor mother up all night pooping your diaper. This goes to “regularity”.

Okay. Just kidding. If you have a problem, try prunes.

But seriously … do you WANT to be regular? I mean regular like normal like everybody else?

The fact of the matter is … most people (I think) do. It goes back to high school when all we wanted to do was “fit in” and “be accepted”. We never wanted to stand out or be too different. THAT would be suspect. We wanted to BLEND.

But ordinariness? Does anyone really ever aspire to be ordinary? Or average? Or Common?

I don’t know. Maybe? There must be some people somewhere who just want to get through life alive. You know, until they are dead. No wave-making, no rule-breaking, no “writing your own damn book!” Just getting it done day by day until there are no more.
Fair enough.

When I was ten years old my parents dragged the family across the ocean to live in London, England for a time. My sister and I were sent off to proper Grammar school where, for the first time in our lives, we we forced to wear uniforms. We loved it! Not because the uniforms were uniform but because for us they were unusual and fun and crazy and only for a short time so there was actually nothing at all uniform about us wearing uniforms! Until month one turned into month 5 and we realized (as did our oh-so-grateful mother) that getting dressed in the morning was NEVER an issue. We all KNEW what we were wearing.

Fast forward to my son’s first day of JK and what was he wearing? A uniform. We had decided to send him to a small private school for his formative years which eventually lasted JK-8. Uniforms all the way! And then for high school? HE chose to attend the catholic school nearby because he had friends there and also because … they wear uniforms. That was his normal. That was his comfort zone.

Fast forward another 7 years and my boy is about to release his first record of original songs. His career choice is about as un-normal as it gets. Even with ALL that normalcy leading up to this time and even with a father who has chosen a fairly normal life path, my son is totally off the map. Betting his entire pot on one crazy hand and trusting the universe (or his alien forefathers) to come through! Even though he LOVED uniformity his whole life he is now the least normal sheep in the flock.

And I am so damn proud of him.

Because normal has never been anything that came easily to me. And the older I get, the less normal I become. That’s not to say that I don’t TRY to fit in. I just rarely succeed.
This past weekend I attended a beautiful wedding where tradition was definitely the order of the day. It was incredibly sweet and I wish this lovely couple a hundred years of wedded bliss because I adore them to pieces and they believe in this heritage with all their hearts. Wonderful.

Is it something I could ever do myself?  Nope.

Because apparently on Planet Vickie tradition and normalcy are not applauded. I quite frankly don’t really understand why anyone gets married anymore? Best I can come up with is every girl wants her “Disney Day” and this is the only way she’s ever going to get it. But that’s just me.

I mean face it, we ALL know that half of all marriages end in divorce and I know from personal experience that even those that don’t are often fraught with affairs and dalliances and doubt and regret.

Why set yourself up?

Because it’s expected. It’s normal. It’s what society tells us we should be doing.
It’s also romantic as hell. For a minute or two, anyway.

I do know a few couples who have apparently won the soulmate sweepstakes and are blissfully blended even after kids, careers, wrinkles and menopause.
Few is, alas, the operative word in that sentence.

I also know many divorced couples, a few amicably, most not so much.
Again, FEW is the operative word.

I know one couple who have decided to try an “open marriage”. Love each other loads, passion has died and is apparently un-ressurectable.

Fair enough. Why not try a new strategy and see if it flies?

I know another couple where passion has died and one party doesn’t seem to mind and the other party kinda does so the party of the 2nd part finds passion elsewhere. All the time keeping the family unit intact because the family unit IS the prize. If a little subterfuge keeps the prize in sight, it’s gotta be worth it right?

I know couples who stay together “for the kids” and couples who stay together because they are “best friends” and couples who stay together because they are too lazy to shake things up and I know couples who stay together because they took a vow and damnit that vow is important to them so damnit again they are going to fight to the death to KEEP that vow even if they are miserable for half their lives fighting.

I also know couples who stay together because they took a vow and damnit that vow is important to them so they are going to keep it. Period.

It my be fucking hard work and it may mean making sacrifices and not always getting what you want or even what you need but those couple take that vow SUPER seriously and nothing on this good green earth is going to shatter it. Good for them.

Now, look up at all those categories and tell me … which couples are normal and which are not?

I don’t know. Nor do I care.

Because I have decided that maybe normalcy is something you yourself create? And then live.

You see for me, the “cocoon” of normalcy was just an act. Just a play in which I could star. Reciting lines, mind you, written by someone else. But hey, I was the star and I’m pretty damn sure I won a few Oscars.

Truly, it IS ‘safe’ to live within the cocoon of normalcy. You give what everyone expects and you think (or at least hope) you are in a state of blissful harmony with the world around you. You fit in. You gel. You feel protected, much like the chrysalis that surrounds the drab looking pupa of a butterfly.

But that’s the problem. Who wants to be a drab looking pupa? Who wants to be a drab looking anything?

Sometimes, for some people, IF you want to become that butterfly you must surrender your desire for normalcy and let those wings spread. If you want to explore the limits of who you are, what you feel, and how creative you can be, I guarantee you WILL be required to take a risk. IF you want to break out of that cocoon and soar into a world unknown and unseen you simply must stop craving normalcy. Stop adhering to its constraints. Stop believing it is the only way.

Yes, you will be venturing unprotected into a far-away galaxy never-before explored (unless of course you are me because that would be my home). Those static, prescribed, age-old dictums of life can no longer bind you. They are merely elements of life. But maybe someone else’s life.

YOU are about to become the butterfly and the ‘beautiful’ you will only emerge after you break free of the binds of structure and expectation and experience the wings of flight. That is when you will understand metamorphosis – its power, its individuality, its possibility and its perfection. Because you will grow fully and completely into who and what you are meant to become.

However … (and there IS always a but, isn’t there?)

I do not believe you can have a foot in both camps. IF you truly want to seize your destiny, break all the rules, design your own life and escape the cocoon of normalcy, well … You have to commit. You have to believe that YOUR cause is a just one and then damn every torpedo. The ONLY rule is that you must be authentic. At the very least authentic to yourself. Call that goddamned spade a spade. Whatever it is … it’s YOUR spade. Embrace it. Live it. Love it.

Please try not to break any hearts. Please try to be honest, kind, loving and true. But most importantly please try to be honest, kind, loving and true to YOURSELF.

You don’t have to be normal if you don’t want to be and you can totally grasp normalcy’s comforting embrace if that’s your jam. Just own it. Whatever your IT is. IT is your normal.

And your one and only precious life is worthy of IT.

About winesoakedramblings - The Blog of Vickie van Dyke

Writing is therapy. Wine is therapy. Writing while drinking wine is the best therapy. Reading while drinking can also be fun. Listening while drinking is also fun so check out my podcast! And then there's that book (memoir) that I wrote: Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and be Happy! My life has provided me with a wealth of inspiration. Maybe something here will inspire you too? ~Vickie
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