I recently wrote about the effort involved in trying to appear ‘normal’ and it got me thinking about what exactly is ‘normal’? So, I checked the definition and I’m not sure that it is something I actually do aspire to be.
Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected
BUT, if I don’t aspire to be ‘normal’ then perhaps I’d be considered ‘abnormal’. So, I checked the definition and I’m not sure that being abnormal is desirable either!
Deviating from what is normal or usual,
typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying
Yet, since my diagnosis of Parkinson’s, I have unintentionally and inadvertently spent an enormous amount of time and effort to try to appear ‘normal’. For ‘normal’ I mean, ‘normal’ for me. The way I was before my diagnosis, the way that others who know me, would expect me to behave. I don’t know why I spend so much energy, time and effort trying to appear ‘normal’ but I suspect it is due in varying degrees to the fact that I feel self conscious and I don’t want to feel uncomfortable myself or to make other people feel uncomfortable. That I’m stubborn as a mule and determined to retain the illusion of my former self for as long as I possibly can. That I’m a control freak and I cannot yet reconcile this with having less control over my body and sadly, even in 2020, I sense at times a stigma and shame associated with having a neurological condition.
But it is exhausting and it is getting increasingly difficult to appear ‘normal’. Frustratingly, I find myself apologising for my abnormal attributes. ‘I’m sorry my hand is so shaky’, ‘Excuse me, how embarrassing, I’ve forgotten what we were discussing’.
‘Would you mind doing this for me please? I’ve hurt my hand and can’t write at the moment’ I found myself saying to a receptionist the other day when I couldn’t write well enough to fill in a form. The honest response would have been ‘Would you mind doing this for me please? I have Parkinson’s and it affects my ability to write legibly.’ The latter, being honest and educating others at the same time has to be the much better approach and yet I don’t find it easy to tell a stranger such a personal thing.
I have developed tremors of my mouth and facial muscles. They move involuntarily, without my consent. I now have a range of pouts that convey mixed messages varying from “I’m blowing you a kiss’ to ‘I’m sticking my tongue out at you’. So, I can continue to make excuses, try harder and harder to appear ‘normal’ or perhaps I should be more open and honest. So, when the current lockdown is over and life returns to some ‘normality’, I’m going to test a different approach and see if I can conserve my energy for enjoying each moment rather than exhausting myself trying to appear ‘normal’.
So, if I am no longer aspiring to be ‘normal’ but I’m not keen on being ‘abnormal’ either, I’ve decided to strive for ‘pizzuberance’.
‘Pizzazz’ – A combination of vitality and glamour. ‘Exuberance’ – The quality of being full of energy and cheerfulness.
A completely made up word to describe a little pizzaz and a sprinkle of exuberance, without even a hint of normality
So from now on, I’m not going to use my energy striving for ‘normal’, I’m going to have much more fun and keep my energy to develop my ‘pizzuberance’. If that means sticking my tongue out at you or blowing kisses to strangers then so be it!