Erma Bombeck said it best: Normal is a setting on a dryer. Nothing more, nothing less.
If I ever look tired, it's probably because I'm dead tired from trying to fit in with what is perceived by a larger world as something close to "normal." How so?
- I'm an introvert. Introversion is greatly misunderstood. Introversion is not shyness. It is not anti-social tendencies. It is merely an indication of where a person derives his or her source of energy. Extroverts receive energy from outside sources or other people. Introverts get their energy from inner sources -- their minds, their emotions, their thoughts -- or by separating themselves from the world-at-large for a while. For years, I fought the label. No, no, no, I was an extrovert, I screamed. Look at me, could I do all this stuff if I were an introvert? But as I got older and wiser, I realized that I really did have to withdraw to recharge..... oh wait, right? Yeah. Introvert. I can turn it "on" -- and indeed, I must in certain circumstances such as phone work, stage performance, etc. But as soon as those things are over, I really do need to be alone. I need the solitude and relative quiet to unwind. It's one of the reasons I don't really complain too much about my commute. Yes, it can be an absolute drag at times -- yet in the afternoons, when I need to decompress, having that hour (or so) to myself is a thing of beauty. Sometimes I talk it out, when there's not another soul (but me) listening. Other times I need silence, with only the sound of deep breathing for a little while.
- I have some chronic medical issues. Let me preface by saying I have friends who go through much worse. And my conditions are managed well enough that they don't cause me much grief -- though if I am in the throes of a migraine, my face will give it away. But on those days when I'm not feeling well, it truly takes every ounce of energy from every cell of my body for me to simply function at a basic level. Quite frankly, those are the times when the word "fine" would be understood as code for "go away, leave me alone, I'm not okay and I don't wish to discuss it." One of my conditions requires ongoing therapy, and after 6 years, is finally down to just once-a-month treatments. But I will need this therapy the rest of my life, if I expect to keep this condition in check. There are no cures. It's not especially life-limiting, though it can be. So far, the worst limitation for me is that this summer, I haven't been able to be outside in the heat and humidity. There goes sitting on my back deck until after the sun is sinking (usually after 7:00). The other condition requires that I carry an emergency kit (including injection meds) on me at all times, just in case. I also get chiropractic care every two weeks to keep my shoulders and neck from kinking up on me (the hazards of a desk job) and causing the migraines to be even worse. Things that only others with a chronic condition (or those who care for someone with a chronic illness/condition) would even begin to comprehend.......
- Concentration is extremely hard for me. I have never been diagnosed with an attention disorder, so let's get that out of the way. It would not surprise me, however, if I were found to have one. Concentration or focus has never come easy, as far back as I remember. I've always had to just force myself to do it, someway, somehow. So if I am ever in "the zone," I may not always be at my kindest if I am (how shall I say it?) "untimely ripped" from the zone, and especially if it's something that breaks the concentration just enough...... "Might I borrow your pen?" would be no big deal -- I can say "Sure" and keep going. "Hey, what do you know about....?" will get a "Wait, what, huh?" from me, because you have just completely stopped me cold. I didn't hear a thing you asked, I didn't pay a bit of attention to what you said -- because my brain had to change gears without shifting the clutch.
So there you have it. Things you may have known -- or possibly not.