Blogging From A to Z, Random Ramblings

N is for Normal #atozchallenge

A Procrastinator’s Guide From A to Z

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
― Albert Camus

N

N is for Normal.

When I picked my topic for the A to Z Challenge, I wanted a topic that I understood. Intimately.  I wanted to help other procrastinators know that they are NOT alone.  I wanted to help non-procrastinators understand some of the mentality behind the procrastinator’s actions.

I think most people associate procrastination with the act of avoiding tasks that need to be accomplished.  They see procrastinators doing tasks out of order.  They see them put off important tasks until the last possible moment.  It is assumed that the procrastinator is simply foolish or lazy.  Or both!  Outsiders suggest better time-management skills. Perhaps a new schedule will “fix” the procrastinator?  Perhaps punishment should be enforced?  Mend your ways or there will be consequences!  Or…perhaps the reverse will cure the procrastinator of their naughty ways!  If you get all of your tasks done on time, you will be rewarded with this treat, like an obedient puppy.  Woof!

The trouble is, most procrastinator don’t WANT to procrastinate.  They don’t like their feelings of guilt, and shame, and self-doubt.  In fact, most procrastinators waste a great deal of energy worrying over their behavior.  They don’t want to feel like they are broken vessels.  They just want to be normal, like everyone else.

Imagine a tetrahedron, a triangular pyramid, with three visible faces and a triangular base.

Image courtesy of Ssawska at Wikimedia.
Image courtesy of Ssawska at Wikimedia.

 

When seen dead on, only one face of the triangular figure is clearly visible.  Let’s call this face Procrastination.  Depression and Perfectionism make up the other two visible faces of this pyramid.  Fear is its base.  You can try to bust down one wall of this pyramid with time-management skills and chore charts, but you’ll only knock it over, exposing the face of Fear.  Depression, Perfectionism, or Procrastination may no longer be visible, but they’re still there.  You can roll the pyramid like a four-sided dice, but you can’t destroy a tetrahedron with punishments or presents.  You can try using different devices to coax the procrastinator into conformity, and they might work—temporarily.  But once the dice is rolled again, you’ll have to try something else.

Procrastinators want to be normal.  Right or wrong, they equate normal with happy.  And who doesn’t want to be happy?  We could all use a little more happiness in our lives, right? So, they try new tricks, new ideas, hoping they’ll find something, ANYTHING, that will make them feel like they are normal, like everyone else.  To a procrastinator, normal and happy are the SAME thing, practically interchangeable words.  Do you see the problem with this logic?  Did you catch that?

Normal=Happy

Happy=Normal

Are “normal” people happy?  Are they happy all the time?  Are they happier than “other” people?  Is there a scale of happiness out there, one that measures happiness in relationship to normality?  And what if you’re excessively happy?  How normal is that? How much happiness should you have in order to possess the “right amount” of happiness?

Procrastinators just assume that “normal” people are happier than they are.

Normal Childhood=Happy Childhood

Normal Home Life=Happy Home Life

It never occurs to them that “normal” is relative to one’s surroundings and conditions.  One person’s “normal” could be another person’s NIGHTMARE!  Based on my observations, Happiness and Normality usually ride different buses.  They seldom sit together. Sometimes they hang out with each other, but not necessarily everyday.

If chore charts could banish the underlying fears of not being good enough or smart enough, we’d all use them and procrastinators would be cured!  If better organization and time-management skills could stop perfectionism and the dizzying cycle of all or nothing—do it perfectly or not at all—I would gladly learn these skills!  I have PLENTY of books on the subject, from the wisdom of Marie Kondo to the teachings of Martha Stewart.  If I thought I could glean enough information from an organizational guru, to read-myself-better, I would!  If there was a magical way to make me feel like I was normal, I’d grab it.

I didn’t always understand the differences between feeling normal and being happy.  I’m better than I was, but my journey is FAR from complete.  Self-knowledge has helped me, but my “normal” consists of reoccurring battles with depression.  “Normal” is dealing with aging body parts that don’t always cooperate.  I’ve been feeling good the last few weeks, sooo much happier than I’ve felt in a long time, even with the aches and pains.  Mentally, I’m in a good place.  A joyful place!  Is this normal?  For me…no, but happiness is a state of mind.  It is not guaranteed.

Normal is relative and COMPLETELY overrated.  If I’m in an area where EVERYONE is sad, then sadness is the “norm” for this group.  Why would anyone want that?  Normal and happiness are NOT opposite sides of a coin. They are totally different things.

I wish you happiness, wherever you are RIGHT NOW, in your life.  xo Juli

 

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15 thoughts on “N is for Normal #atozchallenge”

  1. Great post Juli! Someone mentioned to me the other day the title of this book: Everyone’s Normal Until You Get to Know Them. I couldn’t help but laugh. I am straight up Not Normal. Thank God! I’m so much happier now that I own up to it. Have a Joyful Day! xo Whitney

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The tetrahedron illustration and explication are impressive. Now I know more about why procrastination is negative. And I wouldn’t want folk to feel the way you describe. As for not being normal, that is certainly relative. My relatives are not normal. Ha!

    Thanks for this illuminating entry, Juli!

    Like

  3. I’m glad you’ve been feeling happier!!

    This post on procrastination really shed some light on how subjective “happiness” really is. I’m a work-a-colic. I have to force myself to stop working and take a break. Something I think if I can learn it’s okay to write less than X number of words today or if I can learn to stop feeling guilty when I take a vacation, I’ll be happy. Isn’t that ironic? I guess it does seem like the grass is greener on the other side. Happiness is definitely a state of mind, regardless of how our personality types seem to be.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      Yes! Isn’t it also funny how we make “happiness deals” with ourselves? If this, this, and THIS happens…then I’ll be happy, as if productivity and happiness run parallel to one another. More productivity=More happiness How many times have I tumbled down that rabbit hole!? Yikes!!! One of two things usually happens to me. Either A) I manage to achieve my goal…only to not feel as happy as I thought I would; or B) I don’t achieve my goal, and I feel like a failure. Feeling like I’ve accomplished something doesn’t always make me feel happy. Don’t get me wrong. I LIKE finishing tasks. I enjoy checking items off of lists. But, these things don’t always make me happy. I’m not feeling THRILLED just because I washed a load of dishes. Woopie! Nope. No happiness there. I’m glad they’re clean, but I don’t do dishes hoping to feel happier, even though that would be productive. LOL
      Sometimes, just knowing that happiness is its own thing, is enough. The other day, I was working on a project I didn’t want to do, but needed to get done. I prepared myself mentally before I got to work. I put on some upbeat tunes. I felt a little silly, but I danced around to my tunes before before I got started. 🙂 Even though I HATED the task I was doing, I felt happy. In fact, I felt GREAT! Which, made the hated task seem to go faster. I’m still learning to mentally separate happiness from other things. In my mind, happiness is conditional, like something you have to earn. It’s a very unhealthy way to see things. Yet another reason why I’ve battled with depression for so many years. How can you be happy when you’re default setting says you don’t deserve it? It’s difficult to rewire that kind self-depreciating mental abuse.

      Like

  4. I never analyzed the difference between normal and happy. You have done a remarkable job with this analysis. I suppose thinking in terms of normal this is why that saying “the new normal” became so popular and is used so frequently in time of unwanted change to a person’s life. On another note Juli, I am happy to read your posts and to know that you are more light hearted this day. See, I feel the word happy is way over rated so try not to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂
      I think everything ebbs and flows with time. You can’t always be “super happy,” that’s not natural, but if someone’s feeling so low they no longer want to participate in life…there’s a problem. I’ve been there! I’ve had days where I’m not sure what I would have done, if it weren’t for the love and support of my family and friends. My husband is incredibly supportive of me. He’s my best friend.
      I’m in a good place in my life right now, but I think it’s important to share this kind of stuff. I used to be embarrassed. I was afraid. But now…I think it’s better to let people know what it’s like to live with depression, and the rest. It important to get a sense of all the baggage that goes along with it. I’m just one person, but I know I’m not alone. It’s funny how we can blog with people thousands of miles a way, and yet still feel like we’re all alone, like we’re the ONLY ones who have ever experienced our particular hopes, dreams, and tragedies. It’s therapeutic for me to write these posts, not JUST to finish the challenge. LOL It feels like freedom to set my thoughts into words.
      In my professional life, and even in my personal life, I’m the type of person who SEEMS to have their life together because I try REALLY hard to be perceived this way. It feels good have a space to freely admit my faults. I’m a work in progress…and that’s okay.

      Liked by 1 person

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