By Chad McCoy, M.A.
It’s an odd thing, ya know? The first 18 or so years of our lives we do nothing but grow and, hopefully, achieve until the day we graduate high school. Even then many of us spend much more time achieving through college to land that job that we will inevitably spend the rest of our lives doing. At what point did that end? The achieving? The growth? For me, normalcy has been a harsh realization. Like the time you figured out how you came to this planet and that sex isn’t just for young people. If you haven’t had that realization, talk to your parents.
All those adages of “nine to five,” and songs like “Everybody’s working for the weekend,” seem to ring even truer now than they ever have before for me and I don’t think that I alone experience this. People my age, by my estimation, suffer from, “Normalcy.” Finally, after seven long years of term papers and final exams I can finally focus on…; well that exactly is where I get stuck. What exactly am I focusing on? Somehow I thought this life had more to hold. More excitement. More achieving. What happened to you, Life? Why have you forsaken me? Et tu Brute?
Well, not exactly. At some point I had yet another “AHA!” moment that maybe Life didn’t forsake me, but I’m now joining the A.D.U.L.T. ranks. For one reason or another for me this was synonymous with complacency. There is a lot to be said for being complacent. Enjoying what you have and wanting less can have a lot of benefits. You suffer less stress and generally speaking complacent people are much happier. So why am I having such trouble with it? I guess this assumption that I would automatically have it better than my parents wasn’t as automatic as I thought. Now Life in this perspective is a little harder to swallow. Now I’m responsible for the achieving.
During school, this was a fairly innocuous event. I was forced in many ways to complete assigned projects. Now as an adult, if I don’t accomplish things outside of work there’s no real negative consequence, other than the dissonance I experience from wanting more. Some may confuse this with the idea of depression. For all intents and purposes, they aren’t too different. There’s an expectation on one hand, and conflict of not meeting that expectation on the other. If left unchecked, depression can be a real possibility.
So I have this one last adage for you, “Idle hands are the devil’s plaything,” or as Gandalf the Gray puts it, “…it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.” The key to my dilemma came in the form of finding those things that broke the monotony of “the grind.” Having things that I need to achieve and going for them. Sometimes this can be as simple as a home DIY that interests me. Even continuing to work towards that long term goal. I had to adjust my frame of reference, and that can be a powerful thing.
Once we slowdown in our lives there is this anxiety that comes with normalcy. It has to be redefined. You have control of this. Life is just going to happen. There’ll be slow times and times of upheaval. By following some passions or moving towards a goal, you can gain that sense of achievement as well as break the monotony of the debilitating, “normal.” Help EFC continue to provide mental health and educational programming for the community by making a tax-deductible contribution at www.edmondfamily.org. Be sure your teen has the BeEdmond app downloaded on their smartphone and Like Us on Facebook. Your professional counseling agency for 41 years. Thank you!