“There is no normal life…it's just life.” — Doc Holliday, “Tombstone”
Last week, I shared words of wisdom from the fairest among us — our mothers — that I hoped might offer some direction for our soon-to-be-graduated high school seniors. Today, I want to piggyback on those words with something that hit me last weekend.
I believe it is time that we as whole give up on the concept of trying to be normal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard young people say, “I just want to live a normal life.”
Really? Let me say it: to heck with “normal.” I believe we’ve hit the point where the concept of “normal” needs to flushed down the proverbial toilet — and I believe it should start with this group of seniors.
Seniors/graduates, as you step up to the plate and contemplate the future, here’s what I want you to do:
— Don’t be a normal student. If you decide to continue your education beyond high school, don’t accept today’s standard of whining when assignments are difficult and blaming every failure you have on the teachers and/or school. Suck it up, work hard and, if you hit a rough spot, work your way through it. And pray, really hard, that struggling in a class is the worst problem you’ll ever have to face.
— Don’t be a normal child. Todays’ child reflects the pitiful face of our society, where respect for elders and especially parents is viewed as archaic. If you don’t remember anything else I say today, remember this: you get to choose your friends, but God gives your family for a reason — ESPECIALLY your parents. You may fight with them, cuss at them under your breath even, but you better believe when you hit a hard time and all of those friends forget who you are, your family (and most often those ‘stupid’ parents) will be there for you. As Mark Twain once said, “When I was 17 I couldn’t believe how dumb my parents were. When I was 27, I couldn’t believe how much they had learned in 10 years.”
— Don’t be a normal worker. If school isn’t for you or circumstances dictate that you have to go to work to support yourself, don’t expect to be in a management position within six months of starting. Lower level/minimum wage jobs are places to start and work your way up. Don’t listen to people who want to convince you that you should be making $20 per hour in a beginning job. They don’t understand that if all starting employees were paid that much most employers would replace those jobs with machines (just look around a little if you don’t believe it). Work hard, work consistently and it will pay off.
— Don’t be a normal citizen. When you step out into the real world, don’t be a lemming. Do not accept what any politician tells you as unadulterated truth. I don’t care if they are Republican or Democrat — doesn’t matter. Learn all sides of an issue as best you can before making up YOUR mind about it. The sad fact is 99.7 percent of our politicians represent themselves or their party — right and/or wrong be damned. You understand that going in and keep your eyes wide open you’ll be a much more effective American.
— Don’t be a normal friend. In this day and age, for whatever reason, being a friend means seeing someone online, chatting a great virtual chat on their screen, then talking about them behind their non-virtual back every chance you get. Don’t get suckered into believing that your virtual (meaning not real) friends reflect reality. Nobody goes online and brags about having a stomach virus, bad breath or dirty underwear. Just understand that those things are a part of every real existence. Get your face out of your screen, turn the danged thing off and be brave enough, decent enough to actually treat your real friends with the same respect you expect from them. They are worth more than gold.
— Don’t be a normal spouse. Don’t you believe anyone who tells you a successful relationship is a 50-50 arrangement. The truth of the matter is this: successful relationships are found when they are a 100-100 arrangement — and if you aren’t prepared to give a relationship everything you have in you (and sometimes more, if need be), then don’t get in one. Giving or expecting anything less is a recipe for disaster.
— Don’t be a normal parent. This day and age being a parent means you have produced offspring. Any idiot can be a parent, but it takes real bravery to be a mama or a daddy. Raise your children in an environment of sincere respect and honesty. It’s harder, but it’s worth it.
— Don’t be a normal worshipper. You’re making a mistake by looking at people who celebrate God differently than you and judging them to be wrong for it. Always remember, Jews don’t recognize Jesus as the son of God, the Pope doesn't recognize the Protestants, Christians don't recognize Islam, and Baptists don't recognize each other in the liquor store. You find what works for your heart and your soul, and celebrate the fact that the Big Man at the top of the spiritual totem pole has his eye on you.
— Don’t be normal. Be brave enough to blaze your own path, dance to your own beat. Dare to be different.