Friday, March 29, 2013
"Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now." -Maya Angelou
I am reminded by my therapists on a fairly regular basis that I missed out on a decade of 'normal development'. While I was experiencing my years of illness and recovery, others my age were experiencing 'normal' life events. I know and understand the intention and thought behind this statement. It is meant to alleviate the stress I feel when I express worry over my life as it stands now. I sometimes feel behind or out of place or different from all of my peers. I feel like I've been in a dark abyss while everyone else moves gleefully along. But, while I know these feelings come and must be addressed, I also do not believe I am really and truly all that different from everyone else.
I believe each of has a journey, a life experience worthy of admiration and respect. And if I compare myself to the small group fluttering around me, I might feel a bit excluded or behind, though ridiculously untrue. Each of us has something to offer and no one has it easy. When these feelings creep in, I look at the bigger picture, the larger world and I see my path and my life is just that, my path and my life. I am sure all over this world there are other twenty somethings with far greater struggles and superior levels of achievement I can't even begin to fathom. I know there is suffering and marginalizing I can only read about and will never experience, simply because I am lucky enough to be born in my country. I can't begin to compare myself, nor should I.
Life is not about comparison or competition. It is not about meeting a check list of experiences by a certain age. Life is about individual experience and finding the commonalities that lie in individual purpose. While each of us has a unique gift to offer, a unique journey to forge, we all have a purpose to offer the world. And that purpose is found through and with the help of our singular path. What we contribute to the greater good or the common good are the lessons we have learned along the way. This is our common charge, our common purpose. And without our difference or diversity, our world lacks beauty and strength.
Instead of loathing my separateness, I choose to acknowledge my experience as a gift for understanding. I choose to be grateful for all of the events in my life, even if they are not found on a 'normal' check list. The word normal is dangerous. It decides that one is better or more common or more acceptable than another. I believe every life is precious and purpose filled, whatever the path. Just getting up to face the day is a struggle and a profound achievement for some and should be honored with the same dignity a diplomat or any other grandiose position in life is honored. I am 'normal' because I have life experience, a personal journey, suffering, joy, and struggle. None of these things brought me to a place of comparison or competition. They led me to a place of compassion, love, and humility. And if that isn't normal, than I prefer to be anything but.