“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” — Maya Angelou
For as long as I can remember, I always recalled wanting to fit into the mold of what was considered ‘normal’. Normal is defined as socially acceptable. Conforming to the standard or common type. Being a regular. Growing up, I was always shy and bashful. Timidly hiding behind the shelter of my blanket or my mothers leg. I felt at ease simply blending in like a festival of dandelion wish-makers in the breeze of life.
The first day of school, Kindergarten, I recall it being everything but normal. Fascinating that 23 years later, I can recall that day as though it had been yesterday. Stained within me so vividly. Not knowing what to expect but really having no expectations, I was met with isolation and bullying. Bullying that would ultimately last me the entirety of my schooling until adulthood. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. Or a combination of things. My skin color was not like the other school children’s. My teeth were too big. My hair was too frizzy. My clothes weren’t as impressive. What interested me was an oddity to certain others. Often, over the years of schooling I would cry and ask my mother “Why can’t I just be normal? Why can’t I just be like everybody else so that others will accept me and like me?” It was an issue I struggled with and grappled with in many different fashions over the course of my growing up. At times, I would attempt to adapt and become like everybody else only to find myself confused and uncomfortable in my own skin. At times, attempting to please everybody else just to fit in would put me in heaps of trouble. What a mess. As I grew older, I began to realize how futile it truly was to ‘sell your soul’ so-to-speak to be someone that you’re not. To please someone else at the expense of hurting yourself and those who truly do love you for you.
Growing up, when asking my mother “Why can’t I just be normal? Why can’t I just be like everybody else so that others will accept me and like me?” my mother would always respond the very same answer and it didn’t really click within me until the brink of adulthood. “What is normal? There’s no such thing! There’s who YOU want to be. There’s who God wants you to be.” This is when everything began to change. I shed the old city where I was born and raised. I shed it all just to start all over brand new. A rebirth.
With a new confidence in toe, I shunned the idea of ‘normal’ and opened my arms wide to life whatever may come. Then in 2008, having just gotten married 4 months prior, I had received the earth-shattering news that I had a seizure condition called Epilepsy. I found myself for quite an extensive amount of time reverting back to the me from yester-years… Asking myself, asking my family, asking my new husband, God, the entire world “Why? Why can’t I just be normal? Why can’t I just be like everybody else?” Without a doubt that had to be the toughest moment I’d ever encountered in my life. However, this was different. This time I had an army surrounding me. An army of love and support. Of Angels and blessings that refused to let me turn around and self destruct like the times of yester-years. I was given my time to of course cry my tears and feel the pain that I felt inside. But once the tears dried and my family saw that it was time, they decided that it was time to have a talk about this ‘normal’ thing.
Normal? There’s no such thing. Life. It’s what you make it. What God presents before you, you can either grasp hold and rise to fight on or wither away in the wind. I made the very decision to fight. God saw a strength within me that I had not yet seen myself. I was empowered to read the books of the Bible in which certain individuals faced adversity themselves and rose to the challenge to become stronger individuals inside and out and stronger Christians at the end of it all. I began reading the book of Job. The story of Moses. Proverbs. On and on. Yes some things that I had become accustomed to throughout my life that I deemed as ‘normal’, I found I could no longer do and I had to learn a new ‘normal’ if you will. I had to adjust my life around my epilepsy diagnosis to remain healthy and seizure free.
However, I learned real quick that just because you have epilepsy or any medical condition for that matter, it doesn’t mean that you are abnormal. You aren’t unacceptable or weird. You won’t be turned away or isolated. No matter what, you are still you. You are still the same old happy, funny, outgoing, loveable, adventurous whatever you may be you!
Normal is a word that I simply just don’t use anymore if I can help it because to me, it’s as realistic of a thing as a ghost is. I am who I am. You are who you are. We are who we are. Period.
I am Tiffany. I love life, I love music, I love photography, I am an artist and there’s so much more to know and so much more to learn! And I have epilepsy. But epilepsy doesn’t have me.