Normalcy Isn't Normal
I've spent a large majority of my life striving to fit in and impress people. I remember the first day of kindergarten, standing amidst hundreds of strange faces, feeling completely lost. I felt alone, and wanted nothing more than to feel a sense of appreciation and belonging. One day, I met a couple "friends" who gave me the attention I craved. Trying my best to prove myself worthy, I ran around the playground, complying with their command to, "Run faster, Bonehead, run faster!" Looking back, it was a degrading experience that showed I was willing to do anything to be a part of their group.
Fast-forward twenty years. I finally landed a big-boy job, and was sitting at my very first personal desk. I was so impressed with myself. I had worked my way up from selling Nikes for a small private-owned shoe store to selling Visas for a large national bank. I even got to wear a suit, feeling dignified as ever. At a store meeting one day, a fellow banker, an attractive young lady about my age, announced she thought I had poor posture and should sit up straighter. Intense shame and embarrassment washed over me like a wave of poisonous toxic waste. I tried my best from that point on to fix my posture, but it hurt my neck and back, so I eventually gave up. I developed some resentment toward my fellow bankers, most of them attractive females. I had spent years of my life lifting heavy weights and working grueling jobs, and imagined they had spent most of their life in cushy office jobs.
The unfortunate truth is, the quest to be normal requires a lot of judgment and criticism, both of self and others. Do we look like them? Do they look like us? Are we uniform in our behavior and beliefs? Better not step out of line, lest we be condemned and ostracized. It's this endless, fruitless march filled with fear, shame, pride, and temporary satisfaction. And until we discover how much relief marching to the beat of our own drum can offer, we're doomed to continuously question our identity.
I found my peace when I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and realized he died so I could be free from shame, guilt, and condemnation. Every morning and every night, and often many times in between, I confess all my mistakes and imperfections to God and ask Him for forgiveness. Then I thank Him for making me imperfect and loving me anyway. And I tell you what, I have never felt so content with who I am and free from fear of failure. This may not be the thing that sets you free from the never-ending rat race, but I definitely recommend it. None of us will ever be "normal", no one will ever be perfect, and we'll never completely fit in. And you know what, realizing and accepting these truths is one of the most wonderfully liberating things we can do.