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Normal Is Boring

Lucy Parley

This slogan has been a long time coming - and it couldn't be more appropriate right now! Our world has turned upside down to the point where there really is no such thing as normal anymore. We're all currently trying to live with this 'new normal' and 'delayed normal', with all the changes and restrictions the covid pandemic has brought. But C word aside, I really wanted this slogan to pull apart the idea of normal itself - not just in life but in us as individuals. There really is no normal anymore and, if anything, normal is boring.

This slogan obviously sits well with me, as we are a neurodiverse family. Living with ADHD means every day can be predictably unpredictable, and there's always a little bit of crazy going on in our house. It can be stressful and challenging, and is without a doubt pretty exhausting, navigating all of our emotions and anxieties and meltdowns. Our quirky little ways and triggers. The extra thought and over-analysis applied to everything. Having to try to outsmart a child who has often already out-thought you before you've even begun. The DRAMA. Oh god, the drama. Drama comes as a regular side dish here.

But it's never boring. And if it were, it's not something we'd cope with very well. Neurodiverse brains - and creative brains generally - don't do well with boring. We need stimulation and interest and variety and colour and music and movement and - yes - drama. Despite the fact that it also exhausts us. While we do actually need a routine and structure to keep us all on at least some semblance of a direction, not being able to be flexible or tweak the rules, or being forced to go through each day in a standard, ordered, normal way would probably have us all tearing our hair out.

I regularly crave order and organisation and a day that flows better, but I know I will rarely achieve this, because it's not how my brain - or my family - works. And actually, coming to terms with that has been interesting. Normal is boring for us. We don't work that way. We thrive on weird, last-minute adrenaline and ideas explosions!

Anything but normal

But you don't have to be neurodiverse to celebrate that normal can be boring. To realise that the whole construct of 'normal' is outdated. Just acknowledging that you don't have to fit the typical mould, be the same as everyone else, reach society's prescribed targets at the time you 'ought' to be hitting them - this is what challenging the normal is about.

I'm looking at you with your pink hair and your crazy-patterned walls and your signature style. You who gets nothing done in standard working hours but gets all your best work done when everyone's sleeping. You who likes to bounce like a loon on a trampoline to exercise instead of going for a 40-minute run. All the geeks and the misfits and the think-outside-the-boxers.

It also applies to any mother who feels anxious that she is making it up as she goes along - from struggling to keep the house tidy to working out the 'best way' to bring up her kids and the right way to educate them, and wondering how all 'the normal mums' do it because she just can't seem to work it out.

Newsflash: normal is boring. There is no Magic Way to be or to do things, even if it seems that way on the media. There's only the way that works for you and your crew. Normal is a label that does nothing other than make us compare and contrast ourselves and make us feel we need to measure up all the time to somebody else who isn't the same as us.  I've worked in women's magazines long enough to know that they create a lifestyle and a persona and an image that we all strive to aspire to - but that it isn't always achievable. More than that, why would we all want to be the same?

We each have our own idiosyncracies and strengths and passions and specialist subjects - it's what identifies us as an individual. It helps us relate to people and empathise and bond with our tribe. And yes, there will also be parts of us we might need to work on; things we find challenging. But these are not weaknesses or deficiencies, just differences - part of our uniqueness.

We're all gloriously different and diverse and weird and brilliant and flawsome - awesome BECAUSE OF our flaws. That's how we should be. It's what makes the world rich, and funny and creative and crazy and interesting. All of the world's incredible artists and inventors and scientists and cultural trailblazers - these are people who broke the 'normal' rules and thought and acted differently - this is what creates change and progress and helps drive solutions. It's where the magic happens.

Normal is boring. You just stick with us weirdos.

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