Being normal is overrated. Sometimes we forget that we don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. We label what everyone else is doing as normal. And we think we should be normal.
We think there may be something wrong with us when we aren’t doing the normal things, that we won’t be as happy or successful or loved if we aren’t being the normal version of human. Or, we think other people might think we aren’t normal. And that can feel scary.
I tried normal. And sometimes I dip back in as if I’m on auto pilot. Everytime I do though, I forget my heart. I forget that I know what’s best for me. I get lost. Usually I quickly find my way back on my own, but sometimes I need a reminder.
If you need a reminder that knowing your heart and being exactly who you are is more important than being “normal” — here it is.
8 “normal” things you don’t have to do anymore (because being normal is overrated)
1. Say yes when you want to say no.
Saying yes while clenching your jaw and rolling your eyes is normal. Agreeing to do things you don’t want to do, aren’t interested in and that you don’t have time for is normal. It also builds tremendous resentment (which eats you up on the inside) and prevents you from doing things you actually want to do.
If you don’t want to do this normal thing anymore, here’s your way out. Say, “No thanks.” I know! That’s it. When your heart says no, you say no. If saying no is hard for you, this will help.
2. Save everything.
The normal thing to do is to save everything. Save it just in case. Save it because you paid too much. Save it because someone gave it you. Save it because your kids might want it. Save it because it’s not hurting anything.
What if instead of that normal way, we saved things that we adored, and things that truly add value to our lives? When everything is important, nothing is so by getting rid of all the stuff that doesn’t matter, we will be left with only what does. So how do you un-save with all of those normal excuses waiting in the wings?
If you are saving it because …
- It was expensive: Saving something because you paid a lot of money for it will only ensure that you keep paying. You will pay with money, time, attention and emotion. Your stuff always needs more stuff. Cleaning, organizing, managing and thinking about your stuff takes time. You pay with emotion too, by holding onto the past, by punishing yourself for old habits. You pay with guilt, anger, and indecision. The answer is simple. Let it go. Let go of the item and all of the costs attached to it. You have paid enough.
- Someone gave it to you: If you received a gift from someone and you don’t want to keep it, you don’t have to. The gift part already happened with the intention in which it was given. Maybe it was congratulations, or get well, or Merry Christmas. You don’t have to hold on to the stuff to receive the gift. Moving forward, if you prefer not to receive the stuff part of gifts, have gentle conversations with people you love and ask them if you could give to each other differently. Suggest getting together for a meal, or donating to a charity you both support or gifting another experience, and skipping the stuff part of a beautiful gift altogether.
- Your kids might want it: They don’t. And if you don’t believe me, ask them. If your adult children want your stuff or their childhood memorabilia, give them a pick-up deadline. It’s not your responsibility to save it for them. For your little ones, they won’t want to wear your clothes or use your furniture when they are grown. Save a few sentimental items for them if you’d like. Give it to them when they are old enough and let them decide if they want to hold on or let go. Love them like crazy either way.
- Because it’s not hurting anything: This was one of my favorite reasons to procrastinate decluttering and letting go. I realized though that I want more. Instead of this isn’t hurting, it has to be helping in someway. When you find yourself thinking, “it’s not hurting anyone/anything,” ask “is it helping anyone/anything?”
- Just in case: The just in case excuse for holding on is a messy combination of fear and procrastination. We hold on because we aren’t quite ready to let go but we rarely use or enjoy the just in case stuff we keep. Take a look in the back of your closet, in the junk drawer, under the sink or in boxes in the garage or attic and it’s clear that just in case means never. Just in case doesn’t just apply to clutter and things in our homes. What else is going on in your life that you are holding on to out of fear? When I began to let go of my just in case clutter, little pieces of fear went with it and it became easier to let go in other areas of my life.
3. Apologize when you aren’t sorry.
Let’s stop apologizing for things we don’t need to be sorry for. It’s exhausting and often a quiet reminder that we aren’t good enough. Here are 8 things we don’t need to apologize for even though it’s normal. We can be kind and loving without being sorry. Our hearts deserve that.
4. Explain your decision not to drink.
There are some things that are only your business. Why you choose not to drink falls into this category. However, it’s normal for people to think that when you aren’t drinking alcohol, you have to tell everyone why. When you decline a drink, they may wonder, and often ask out loud one or more of the following questions …
- Are you pregnant?
- Don’t you want to have fun?
- Do you have a problem with alcohol?
- Are you dieting?
- What’s wrong with you?
Even though you aren’t required to explain yourself in anyway, and in some cases, “that’s not your business.” or “that question is inappropriate.” is the right response. Here’s another, less confrontational approach. Melissa Urban suggests, “I’m not drinking right now.” She says in this Instagram post, “Perhaps “I don’t drink” is strong enough to make others feel defensive about their own behaviors, while my response comes off as less confrontational. (I’m not drinking “right now,” which means I have before, and I might later = less threatening.)” She goes on to say, “for those trying to protect your own sobriety, or in situation where you just don’t want to be questioned… steal my line. Speak it confidently, excitedly, like it’s a cool experiment you are conducting. (Because it is, whether it lasts 30 days or a lifetime). For whatever reason, it puts people less on edge. Take advantage if you need it.”
5. Get burned out and run down.
Isn’t this the normal way of the world? I tried it once, and it didn’t work at all. Being normal meant competing and comparing and never stopping. It made me really sick. If you are on this path, consider a change. Ask yourself why you are so busy. Ask yourself what you are trying to prove or accomplish. Ask yourself if you are running at an unsustainable pace, and question how this path or approach is serving you, your health and your family. As yourself if there is a better way. If the normal way isn’t working, maybe this is your wake up call.
6. Hate your job.
According to a recent Gallup report, 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged in their work. That’s a good indication that it’s normal to not enjoy your work, or even hate your job. If you are one of the 70%, please consider this.
7. Be disappointed by others.
For the most part, the reason we are disappointed by others is because they won’t give us what we want or what we think we need. They fail to meet our expectations. But what if instead, we dropped our expectations and gave ourselves what we need? Take a look at how you think people have let you down. If you didn’t get enough love and kindness from others, how can you can create more love and kindness in your life? If you didn’t get the appreciation and support you expected, what can you do to foster more appreciation and support in your life? Hint: when you give it away, it comes right back to you.
You can still express your wants and needs and then you can fulfill those expectations. Then you can enjoy and appreciate the people you surround yourself with for who they are instead of what they do for you.
8. Be dismissive of change.
If I had a dollar for every person who tells me, “easier said than done,” I’d have a bunch of dollars. When we think “easier said than done” we dismiss the idea of change for ourselves. We struggle to consider what it might take to change. We are afraid to hope for something better. We don’t believe we have what it takes. That’s normal. Instead of being normal, take a tiny step.
I don’t know who decided that being normal was important. I’m happy these normal things aren’t a part of my life anymore. They may not apply to you, but if you are anything like me, many of them do. When you decide that you don’t have to be normal, and that you don’t have to live up to the expectations of others, then you’ll get your life back.
P.S. Join the Simplicity Space to connect with me and a community of like-hearted people who want to leave normal behind, simplify life and live well.