“The Normal Life”

I have never been one that could be called “normal.” I know, I know, normality is a very fuzzy concept, but put aside the “everyone is a unique snowFLAKE” circle-jerk for a moment and realize that there IS something called “normal,” and that a lot of people are just that. Normal. That does not make them sub-par human beings, or without talents, or a unique identity that makes them who they are. It’s just that when you add up all those talents and personality traits and actions and thoughts, it comes out to “normal.”

To claim that I am not normal like other people may seem a little egotistical, what with the current fad of “doing your own thing, just like everybody else.” This is by no means how I mean it. I’m talking about the ever-present sense of alienation from one’s peers, of doing things differently despite yourself, of trying to fit in and be like other people even though a part of you inside is screaming out and rebelling against normality as hard as it can.

I’ve mentioned before that I am an INFP on the Meyers-Briggs personality scale. From a Jungian rating, this translates to that of the Healer archetype, which I find actually does a pretty solid job of fitting my personality neatly into a box. This does not mean I want to heal all the world’s woes. It DOES mean that regardless of my knowing I shouldn’t, I care about other people’s expectations of myself, and often end up taking on tasks at the expense of my own desires. Desires which are often buried deep in the psyche and are never brought into conscious thought. I’ve mentioned this to people before, and they often get all huffy when they make the effort to ask my opinion about something and I still can’t give them an answer. I don’t mean to frustrate them, it’s just also not something that changes overnight.

So how does this relate to “the normal life”? Well, some days, particularly when I’ve been waffling about certain decisions, I wish I was normal. I wish I had a 9 to 5 job in some office, and was happy with it. Wish I went to a normal college, and was happy with it. That I did normal things that people my age do, and was happy with it. And yet, even when I wish those things, I know that I WOULDN’T be happy with it. I’ve tasted the edges of normality (for instance, when I was working at GDT), and I didn’t like that taste. Not in the “you’ll get used to it” way, either. I’m talking about the bitter, sour taste that makes you gag involuntarily and spit out whatever it was that had that taste.

Doesn’t stop me from wishing for it though. I’ve been doing some thinking about the whole concept with this last spate of wishing, and I’ve realized that it’s not the normal life that I’m wishing for. I’m wishing for a purpose, for a knowing what to do next, and what I should be doing. To no longer have to fight the current, and instead just float along. Go with the flow.

I used to want to fit in so badly. It would drive me bonkers. I had so much trouble accepting who I was, and largely I still do. I still get depressed and unhappy when I’m trying to do what people expect of me [to fit in?], instead of just doing my own thing and not worrying about it. I’m going through a little of that right now.

I don’t know what to do. I want UberCon to succeed, and I want to bring it to Seattle, because it would be good for the area and for the convention. But I’m scared of taking on that level of responsibility, and I’m too close to the situation to be able to tell whether I’m getting cold feet for the right reasons. And what about the steps that I’ve already taken? Talking to Kevin, getting him to give a go-ahead, and arguing with him over doing Seattle before Chicago. I’m meeting up with some people out here next week about the convention, also. This all adds up to expectations, and feeling like now that I’ve taken these first steps, I can’t really stop. Is it bad when you (sort of) want your own company to fail, so it absolves you of responsibility?

Dilemma number two: I have a lot of things that I would like to buy, things that I would like to pursue that require time and money. I’ve been entertaining the thought of trying to get a job as entry-level/intern at a gaming company. It would be an “in” into the industry, and would give me some spending cash while I’m at it (and in theory let me stay in school while I work). My issue is I don’t feel my work (any of it) is good enough right now. I’ve got a fundamental understanding of several subjects (photography, writing, 3d graphics), but I feel stuck at the level I’m at, not progressing any further, and I’m not sure how. I know that given time to sit down and work at any of these (and more), I could progress past it, but I feel like I’m OUT of time, that I need to start DOING something, start contributing.

As much as I have my OCD moments, in a lot of ways, I’ve forgotten how to be obsessive. To allow myself to get absorbed into an activity. So I never give my attention over fully to anything anymore. I spent so many years trying to stop being so obsessive [in order to fit in?] that now that I’ve finally embraced the fact that I’m a geek, I’ve forgotten how to get absorbed. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a late-blooming of Attention Deficit Disorder. I just wish I could concentrate again.

Sorry for the angst, I don’t mean to be an “angst site,” but I’m really stressed and frustrated right now, and needed to talk about it.

3 thoughts on ““The Normal Life”

  1. Hi, Nabil.

    I’m glad you’re not “NORMAL”, whatever that means. Mickey’s life with you would be boring if you were so-called “NORMAL”.

    “NORMAL” to me denotes people who are statistically average, plus or minus some fraction of a standard deviation around the mean. Average in their abilities, average in their expectations, conventional in their beliefs. To use a bunch of chiches, “NORMAL” people choose not to rock the boat, don’t think outside the box, and have difficulty accepting people who are not like themselves. I’m glad you’re not “NORMAL”.

    I suspect that it may be outside pressures and expections from the “NORMAL” world that is creating stress and anxiety. Let me pass on a pseudo-Latin phrase: “Illegitimus Non Carborundum”, i.e., “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down!”.

    I, too, am not normal. Having been born with a cleft palate and hare lip, I sounded and looked non-normal until corrective surgeries in my mid-teenage years. I always did want to fit in but always knew that I wasn’t just like the other kids in school or my neighborhood. My difficulty in speaking exlicited frequent teasing from my really normal schoolmates. I was able to do well in my schoolwork and came to realize that the really normal kids who had fun teasing and insulting me about something beyond my control were not as smart (i.e., were lots dumber) as I was.

    (As an aside, I recently saw an obituary for one of my grade school classmates who enjoyed teasing and mocking me. He was able to work his way up in life to become a janitor at a post office. I wouldn’t trade my life for his really normal one.)

    (Another aside: I’m an ‘ISTJ’ on the Myers-Briggs scale. That probably accounts for the anal retentive characteristic of mine that Mickey made reference to in her journal.) ;-)>

    It is hard dealing with other people’s expectations for what you should do with your life. (I had a Jewish Mother so I know all too well about such things!) You’re still working on finishing your college education so you have time to think about and determine what YOUR own general and specific expectations are. You have special abilities (photography, writing, 3D graphics, very good verbal communcation skills, to mention just a few) that you can enhance through further experience and study. I don’t know if there are intership, part-time, or freelance opportunities in technical writing or graphics design with companies in the Seattle area that you can check into. Mickey’s contacts with Microsoft might be a help.

    Your blog makes it sound like there is something wrong with being obsessive about something you care about. From what I’ve seen, having an obsession about something is a key ingredient to being successful and fulfilled. “NORMAL” people shy away from having obsessions — that’s what keeps them limited to being “NORMAL”.

    It does sound like you’re overwhelmed with all the ramifications of the move in addition to keeping up with your college classes and bringing the UberCon convention to Seattle. My (anal retentive) suggestion is to create a TO DO list of what needs to be done and then prioritize what needs to be done and assign the amount of time you can devote to each task.

    Do keep working on bringing the UberCon convention to Seattle. It will be worthwhile work and business experience (scary perhaps, but good too) and you’ll be making contacts that may be valuable in finding opportunties in the gaming and other industries. If UberCon continues to succeed, it could reach a point where a larger company (Microsoft?) may want to buy it out and put lots of ca$h in your pocket.

    Don’t be afraid of making mistakes along the way — that is part of the learning process. When I worked for IBM, a lot of my clients got bogged down in “analysis paralysis”: trying so hard to think about every possible action before they took any action that they ended up never acting at all. Do act and just learn from the mistakes that will inevitably be made along the way.

    You have a lot of intelligence, knowledge, and capabilities and there will be many different career directions you’ll have in life. You are still building up your reservoir of technical, business, and personal skills that will support you no matter what career path (or paths) you take. Don’t let the perceived expectations of others hinder you or channel you into doing something that is unfulfilling. Simply put, be yourself: it’s a solid base on which to build.

    Dad-in-law. 8-)>

  2. “Your blog makes it sound like there is something wrong with being obsessive about something you care about. From what I’ve seen, having an obsession about something is a key ingredient to being successful and fulfilled. “NORMAL” people shy away from having obsessions — that’s what keeps them limited to being “NORMAL”.”

    Well, for a long time I acted like it was. I felt that getting too absorbed into things was keeping me from fitting in, and strove to stop.

    Now that I’ve realized my error, I’m finding difficult to get back into that mode, despite my knowing I should.

  3. Would it be better if we substituted the word “passionate” for “obsessive”? When we were at the Baha’i Temple a couple of weeks ago, I’d say that you were passionate about what the photographs you were taking, not obsessive. A person can be passionate about a number of things (photography, Mickey, etc.) while obsession seems to be more single-minded.

    Dad-in-law 8-)>

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