Welcome to 2022. There are a lot of surprises in store. I’ll be surprised along-side you. I’m calling it the “New Abnormal” due to the fact that it’s been abnormal for awhile. A new normal doesn’t resonate with me since there have been too many tectonic shifts these last couple of years. Although this new abnormal is, well, new, I am no stranger to abnormal.
When I was 9 years old I secretly played with Barbies. Under our ping pong table in the basement, I created a world that entertained me for hours. I quickly came to understand that my third-grade classmates were not still playing with their Barbie dolls. At least no one admitted to it. They had moved on to more sophisticated toys like the Zig Zag sewing machine or the totally cool walkie-talkies. But I relished my alone time away from my three siblings to do as I pleased, inventing new roles that my small dolls could inhabit. Even later when I was to learn that Barbie was no friend to feminists, I silently appreciated those precious years when they provided me with a gateway to my creative mind.
As much as I loved those solo hours under the table, on Sundays my Grandpop, Sam, would play ping pong with me, my Barbies far from underneath the table in the appropriate cases tucked into the basement closet. My Grandpop was quite athletic. When he played ping pong, he played to win. I only learned the game by trying to keep up. He usually won. But he never gloated. He was a humble man, who taught me the importance of doing a good job for oneself.
At school I was relentlessly teased for my frizzy hair, my hand-me-down wardrobe, or my socially awkward demeanor. To certain kids at Stafford School, I was abnormal. It felt like an unwanted burden as a tween. As an adult, especially in this time of Coronavirus, I have come to understand that having had a tough beginning was the introduction I needed to get through difficult times.
As we enter 2022, we all have a sense of what it takes when the unexpected comes. We’ve had plenty of practice these last 22 months. Abnormal times require abnormal qualities. I may have been unpopular playing with my Barbies, but being able to entertain myself for long periods of time in my own company has served me well. Plus enjoying the company and sportsmanship of my Grandpop has given me an ease with quiet focus. Let’s rejoice in what’s distinct from others. Celebrating our inner abnormalities may just get us through this new year.
- Laugh a little. Watch a Betty White clip on YouTube or elsewhere.
- Clean out something simple as a signal for a fresh beginning. It can be a drawer, a pencil holder, a room, your refrigerator or freezer, your oven or a closet. Throw out what doesn’t serve you anymore. If you can recycle it or repurpose it, great.
- In what ways have you known yourself to veer from the crowd? If it’s something that gives you pleasure and it doesn’t harm you or anyone else, allow yourself the grace to appreciate and enjoy your “inner abnormal.”