Monday, January 10, 2011

Maybe they’re the normal ones

I have spent many days talking to others about my family’s crazy antics, and have enjoyed quite a few laughs at their expense. My dad, who has an amazing sense of humor and is one of the few who did not move to North Carolina, would call on a weekly basis and we would joke about my mom’s side of the family, whom he knew all too well. I think he got a sense of satisfaction from it.

Then, early one morning, I got the worst phone call of my life. My healthy, vibrant dad had suddenly died!

My sister and mom (who had divorced him twenty years earlier) had to fly out to California for his funeral. Now, you may believe that grief brings out the worst in people, and I am sure that is true for some individuals. But soon after arriving, I realized something profound: my dad’s side of the family, which I was rarely around, was just as crazy as my mom’s. That was the first phase of this light-bulb moment. The second phase came when I was talking to an old friend and telling him a story about my grandfather, who was on the top of my most-embarrassing list. My friend jokingly said, “Have you ever thought that maybe you’re the weird one and they’re the normal ones?”

Had I ever thought that? Not in a million years! But I couldn’t shake the comment. Maybe it’s because deep in my core I knew it might be true, but I didn’t dare admit it. What if I was the weird one? I had always felt different from the rest of my family. The puzzle piece that never quite fit, the incorrect color, the misaligned pattern, the piece that you were sure was in the wrong box. Everyone else seemed to have weird idiosyncrasies, but not me, I was the most functional normal of them all … or was I? This may be a sobering realization, but if you have gone through your whole life thinking you are normal and everyone else is weird, you may be wrong. That actually is the bad news. The good news is: we really don’t know what normal is anymore, so if 99% of people act a certain way and you are the 1% who doesn’t, who’s the odd bird? I realized that it was me.

In a way, this is a liberating feeling, because I can stop trying to be normal and finally let some of my quirky personality shine through. It’s actually fun joining the majority!

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