Who Decides What’s Normal?
Deciding what is normal in any life has to be up to the individual. There is no standard to live up to or live by, whether you realize that or not. There isn’t. It’s all just a mixture of circumstance, means and hopefully, choice. I realize that a good number of people in this world have very little choice, limited means and their circumstance is less than desirable. So it can not go unsaid that I am grateful every minute of every day for my amazing circumstance that arose out of sufficient means and a wild freedom of choice.
That said, choice is a bit of rolling target. You can make a choice at one time in your life that will establish your context for every other choice you make for the rest of your life. Children for example. Who you choose to have children with. (And the level of their subsequent mental illness). Aging parents and their circumstance. Career portability in terms of investment, credentials, licensing.
All of these choices lead off in different directions. Ultimately only ** (insert your deity here) knows what will happen next. But you do have to face certain choices within the means that are available to you and the circumstances you live with. Health, fear, skill set, coping skills. These are all a basis for how you make decisions. Your belief system and what you are willing to live with as your ‘set of standards’ also plays a huge role in how your life unfolds. I know people who would love to travel but can’t, at the moment, because of children. I know people that are paralyzed by fear at the thought of being in unfamiliar surroundings. I know people who have pretty established business concerns and want a career change. How much are you willing to put on the line? Give up? Compromise? Risk? Who are you responsible to or for? How much of your decision will impact them?
I belong to a Facebook group of women who travel. Another one for digital nomads. These ladies ask questions like, “How do you decide where your base should be?” “What’s home, when you travel 8 months of the year?” Indeed. Some of them travel and work and do it solo. Others like to travel with friends and return to work to replenish their resources.
Some are asking questions like “Hey, I have $1000 saved up for my first ever trip outside my city. Where should my bf and I go on this limited budget?” If you want to see some balls – check out girls who travel. “My bf broke up with me at the airport when we were leaving for 6 months abroad. So I went alone. I’m done crying, who’s in Singapore and wants to have drinks tonight?” Because obstacles, means, circumstances – the definition of these differs by individual.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I have a lot of friends that are reaching the roundabout of circumstances that requires some decisions to be made. And these aren’t simple decisions like chocolate or vanilla, dogs or cats. These are decisions that require a decidedly different way of thinking. They are at the stage where they need to unpack all the different parts of their life, lay them all out and look at them in a different light. From different angles. They need to slowly and methodically work at shedding the fear. Bit by bit. Until something finally clicks.
I know this because I did it. I lost jobs, careers, parents. I moved. I moved again. I gained friends who became family. I started over and made mistakes and did it again. It’s hard when you are sitting in that roundabout making your choices, to know just how far you are willing to bend. Are you willing to turn your back on things that no longer serve you? Are you willing to sell real estate and move ….across town? Across the country? To Africa? Do you need to hang on to big parts of your life? Which parts? Do you have to make $200k and drive a nice car if it means you have to sit in meetings for hours every day? Are you willing to live on substantially less and take a nap on the beach, working till 3 am because it suits you, knowing you are millions of miles away from “home”? What’s home? What’s a work day? What’s work?
I have not written a post in a while because I was struggling for a topic. I started out with this blog a year and a half ago when all sorts of love walked into my life and I made some pretty earth moving decisions regarding my direction. But I don’t think I ever felt it was as “crazy” or “bold” or “brave” as other people thought. It was just the right course for me.
I left Toronto in the first place because I had reached a place where I was living primarily in the past. I had lost a lot when I was there and my life needed to find a shape of its own. I only even moved there the first and again the second time in order to be able to serve my parents. For no other reason did I live in Toronto. So when they were gone, trying to fabricate my life there was pure struggle. My head was looking back a lot because there was decidedly nothing happening in my present.
Thankfully that has all changed. My present is full of stuff. Stuff that I never would have predicted 18 months ago. I own nothing I can’t sell in 2 days. I don’t own real estate or a car. I am free to travel at a days notice. I can work from home, or the cafe, or France. I meet new people every day. I choose my hours. I decide my work style. I have responsibilities to a very small group of people (my new family) that I take very seriously and prioritize above everything else. I have love in my life and freedom to do as I choose. Is it perfect? HELL NO. I don’t have many friends, and my personal life is a struggle at the best of times, I am often alone too much and the clash of cultures is hard sometimes. But IT’S TOTALLY WORTH IT. I have choices and I make them. I am grateful every day for what I have but I also realize that I have chosen the life of a nomad. I know my decisions centre around my ability to move. To adjust. To accommodate. What will happen next year? No idea. I just hope that I am blessed with the ability to continue to make decisions on my terms. Inshallah. How lucky I have been so far.
\○/ Awesome piece, Kath. xo