normal

Go Your Own Way

Are you a Fleetwood Mac fan? My mom is. I’m not. But I do appreciate their music.

You might know they have this great song “Go Your Own Way”. I think it’s about not committing to a relationship.

If I could
Maybe I'd give you my world
How can I
When you won't take it from me

You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
Go your own way

Tell me why
Everything turned around
Packing up
Shacking up is all you want to do

Want to know what I hear? A love song to society. It’s pretty much how I feel about human beings sometimes. Well, most times.

It seems to me sometimes that people would rather keep picking habits that don’t serve them over ones that do. It seems they want the most for the least amount of work and effort involved.

They want it cheap, fast and easy.

But a life well-lived is none of those things. In fact, it takes incredible amounts of work and tenacity. It’s so much easier to swim with the stream and stay alongside the status quo. So that’s what most people do. That’s what we see all over social media. And most people seem to be ok with a life like that. But I HATE IT. And I think my people (you) do, too. We crave being different and unique and breaking out of molds and boxes.

It takes a lot of work to do that.

But YOU CAN do it. I know. I do it all the time and have been doing it my whole life, really.

When Dave Matthews was the band to follow back in the day, I intentionally didn’t buy a CD. Just one example of many.

And there have been many days, especially in the past six years or so, when I doubted why I lived my life like that and when or if it would ever pay off. I began to get really worried that living outside the lines was catching up to me and I was getting left behind. I was losing the game. I wouldn’t ever be successful. It seemed like the way to be successful and happy, no matter fake and weird it seemed, was to do what everyone else was doing. To just be “normal”.

But I trusted myself. I kept going my own way and doing things differently, in ways that felt right for me. The more I did this, the harder my life got. And if you’ve been following along with me this whole time, you’ve seen the process unfold because I’ve shared it.

And maybe now you’re seeing that…is has totally been the right path all along. Because my life is going the way I want it to, even if it’s nothing like what mainstream society does. And that’s my whole message to you: go your own way. Even if it’s hard. Even when it’s scary. Even when you totally doubt yourself (like I often do).

Because being yourself CAN and DOES pay off. Maybe not the way it does for people who follow the silly societal rules and trends, but do you even really want that for yourself? Maybe you do. In which case, you should probably stop reading.

But if you’re trying to be yourself and have always felt like that was weird or wrong, I’m here to tell you that it’s perfect the way it is. You just have to really believe in yourself and keep sticking to it, especially in the darkest deepest moments when you feel alone and hopeless. Because then you get to have the big breakthroughs that make it all worthwhile.

Like me and what I got invited to do next week, for example. On Wednesday, I’ll be in NYC interviewing author and entrepreneur, Randi Zuckerberg, who wrote “Pick Three: You can have it all (just not every day)”. Pretty cool opportunity, right?!

Totally. And I was invited to do this in my role as a Global Mentor for WeWork Labs. Also another very cool opportunity! And I got that opportunity from other cool things that have happened to me for the past ten years of being a coach and speaker and writer.

And you know what’s the coolest thing about all these experiences? I got chosen for the work I do as a coach. And I emerged from the profound societal stigma of my identity as a trans* person and have persevered to be successful in a career of my own choosing. I also overcame my own personal limitations and mindset to persevere no matter what. Because is it possible I’m being given opportunities simply because I’m trans*? Like being tokenized to make a person or organization look better because they’ve included me? Sure. It’s totally possible and maybe even likely.

But I’m over it. As long as I’m being given opportunities to be visible and inspire (Dillanspire) people, then I’ll take as many as possible for whatever reasons.

If you haven’t experienced stigmatization like this, maybe you don’t get the gravity of what I mean. But I bet you can relate to being or feeling limited by someone or something in your life and told what you should do or be. You may have even been rejected by people you love, like I have, for being yourself. Or you feel that rejection on a daily basis.

And I bet you can relate to how horrible it feels.

And how tempting it is to give up in moments like that.

But if you’ve felt that, then you know how awesome it feels to not give up and how it’s feels SO GOOD when you’ve stuck to your values and principles when you were tested.

And how great the victory feels when you’ve gone your own way and have proven to yourself that it can and does work. Having that experience is TRUE success, in my opinion.

I know Randi feels similarly because I’ve read her book. And while we’ll be talking about work/life balance, we’ll also discuss how hard she worked to achieve her own personal version of success on her own terms.

Which is something we share in common, despite how different our lives are. We’ve both gone our own way and we’re better, stronger people because of it.

I hope this inspired you today,

Dillan

Like normal people do.

What is that exactly? Who are those people?

 

I've been thinking about this normal thing for a while, now. And what it even means.

To some people, I live an incredibly abnormal existence. I eat mostly homemade, organic food 24/7, I watch hardly any television, don't drink or smoke (anything) regularly and go to bed at 10pm most nights of the week, even on weekends. I've worked for myself for the past six years and I'm in better financial shape than when I worked for someone else. I also fall into the o.3% of US adults who identify as transgender. And that's really an arbitrary statistic because we truly have no idea how many people are transgender. 

 

 
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Compared to other people, however, my life is fairly conventional or normal, at least by some American standards. For the most part, I look like a shorter-than-average, white, male-identified person. I was raised between my middle-class, divorced parents in the suburbs of New Jersey and attended Catholic school with the same people from kindergarten to 8th grade. Then, I attended a private school (for girls), went to college and graduated to become a middle school teacher. 

But in between and among those experiences, I've been exposed to the reality that there is no such thing as normal. There is a social construct of it and people spend most of their lives arranging themselves and their identities to "fit in" to this construct.

The construct of NORMAL is arbitrary, a hoax. There is no such thing as normal.

Many people don't even realize this. I was sitting on my front step the other day and two neighbors walked by. One person was sharing a story from work, presumably, and she said, "and this person just randomly up and booked her flight...I mean, for something like that, I would have prepared weeks and months ahead of time....you know, like any normal person would."

"Right," the other person said, nodding.

And I laughed out loud, thinking how many people I know who book flights to take trips at the drop of a hat, including myself. This fall, I wanted to visit one of my friends in Wisconsin and booked the flight within an hour. People I know do this all the time. Does that make us not normal?

I also consider what normal means when I hear mostly straight, cisgender women commiserating about how gender roles affect the sharing of chores in their homes.  To them, and many others, it seems to be normal that men don't help them with housework like cooking and cleaning. Since my early 20s, my experience involves mostly queer relationships, where gender roles were less fixed or socially constructed. I had a partner and we did everything for the house together. I literally don't understand how and why partners wouldn't do the same thing, that doesn't sound like a normal, loving relationship to me. But, to the women who share this experience of feeling frustrated, my perspective and life experience isn't normal. They are doing what they know. And honestly, culture and media strongly reinforces this "helpless, useless stupid man" concept, so I do see where it comes from.

So who and what is normal?

I was told by a former partner that the conflict and challenges we experienced in our relationship weren't "normal". From my coaching sessions, various life experiences and educational research, I disagreed strongly with her. Negotiating many conflicts and challenges in relationships is more normal than not.

When I was leaving my teaching career because I was afraid to come out as queer, I was told it wasn't "normal" to leave just three months shy of tenure. I was giving up job security and health benefits at the age of 24. People just don't do that, it isn't normal. I did it, anyway.

The more I've personally defied convention and social norms, the more I've truly experienced the world as it "is" and not as I was taught to live it. The more I study change theory and culture, the more I realize how much of a farce all of society is.  The truth is, there is SO MUCH going on behind the doors of peoples' homes but most people believe the false exteriors other people show, instead. 

People either drink the Kool-Aid to fit in or practice fearlessness to show their true colors. And we see which ones we call inspiring (usually it's not those on the Kool-Aid).

Roy Baumeister said social psychologists have determined that a great deal of human behavior is aimed at being liked. Isn't it ironic, then, the lengths that will people go to in order to sabotage being liked for others and themselves? By calling everyone back to be "normal", we limit the wide range of personal self-expression and freedom that occurs in the diversity of human experiences.

Instead, I think we should ditch normal and instead practice authentic sharing of our unique and complicated selves. We should express the wide range of human emotions and interests and talents and personalities and physical variation that occurs naturally among us. 

The more people do this, the more it becomes normal to do it.

And then you can just be yourself. You know, like normal people do.