Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

20 Ways You Can Be Like Everybody Else

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As a surgeon, I am asked one question more than any other.

Sometimes I get asked “how many of these surgeries have you done?” Some ask how quickly they can go back to work. Others ask to be off a really long time.

Sometimes I am asked for a magic pill that would make all of the pain go away. No kidding.

But the most common question I am asked is:

Is this normal?

photo by JD Hancock

I understand what most people want to know when they ask that question. But it does make you wonder why we are so obsessed with being normal. For whatever reason, pain and swelling and weakness seem easier to handle if “everybody else” is experiencing the same thing.

In the same way we convince ourselves that life is better if “everybody else” is experiencing the same life.

Doing something different creates tension. Tension between us and those that fit in. Tension within ourselves.

If we don’t fit in, we wonder if other people will like us. If we don’t fit in, we wonder if we are doing things correctly. If we don’t fit in, we wonder what is wrong with us.

And so we constantly compare ourselves to everyone around us, trying to make sure we are normal.

I understand that for many, life is more palatable if you are normal. If you to avoid standing out, this article is a guide to help you be like everybody else.

  1. Have realistic, plausible dreams. Like owning a Nissan Z. Or dating the right guy/girl.
  2. Stop reading books when you stop going to school.
  3. Start tomorrow
  4. Spend all of your money. It doesn’t matter on what, just spend it. Live paycheck to paycheck.
  5. When something is hard and you meet resistance, give up.
  6. Watch TV every single night so you can talk to everybody at work about it the next day.
  7. Never, ever exercise. Ever.
  8. Surround yourself with friends who are striving hard to be like everybody else.
  9. Do nothing that hurts. Avoid pain, both emotional and physical, at all costs.
  10. Define success by what other people think of you.
  11. Define success by the size of your house or the type of car you drive.
  12. Avoid doing anything that could result in failure.
  13. Eat as much junk food as you can. Avoid fruits and vegetables.
  14. Learn nothing new. Keep doing the same things the same way every day.
  15. Make entertaining yourself your number one priority in life.
  16. Don’t ask for help. Assume you know everything
  17. Keep up with what everybody is doing on Facebook
  18. Never volunteer your time. Never give your money. Never see the need of others and make sacrifices to help meet their need.
  19. Sleep in as often as possible.
  20. Be afraid.

I am sure there are more, but if your goal is normal, then these steps should help you get there.

As you can see, though. Normal may not be that great after all.

What do you do that is normal and prevents you from becoming who you want to be?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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33 Replies

  1. Love this, Jeremy!

  2. I watch too much TV. It’s still WAY less than the average person, but still 1-2 hours a night keeps me up late and functioning less than optimal the less day.

    Usually it’s because my wife is watching TV while I’m at the dining room table trying to write/work. If I couldn’t see the TV then I’d probably get a lot more done.

  3. Normal sucks!  It is one thing I have never wanted to be.  I had a glimpse of it with my last bit of consulting, and I seriously hit the roof, it was so awful.  Here’s to the whacky, the outthere, the risk takers, the chancers, the believers, the creatives, the artists …. etc

  4. 11. Give up on blogging

    Writing regularly has really helped me maintain forward momentum.

  5. I can’t believe I forgot that one! Great addition to the list, James.

  6. I spend too much time online. To get my writing platform established, it takes lots of work and dedication. Keeping the balance with my face-to-face relationship gets crowded out too much.

    The thing that struck me about your list was how many times generosity and other-focus is important. Generosity for its own sake, really. That takes maturity and less focus on self. Talk about counter-cultural!

  7. I’m glad you noticed that. I think it’s true that Generosity is both beneficial and counter cultural.

  8. Unfortunately, I do about half the stuff in this list. However, I’m chipping away at it. Once of the hardest ones for me is starting tomorrow. I’m a killer procrastinator. I read a great book called Switch that talked about “shrinking the change.” The idea is to break down whatever your change is into small enough parts that you feel like you can at least start it today. I’m finding that tomorrow can suck your life away. Great post! Here’s to not following these rules!

  9. Tomorrow always sounds so nice. I haven’t read the book but agree with the idea. incremental change is most effective.

  10. I have always struggled with wanting to fit in. Thanks for keeping the world weird, Nics.

  11. Finally I’m a success at something.

    I have accomplished all 21 of the  steps on your list.

    I’m normal!

  12. Only put as much effort into my school projects than needed.

  13. I’m going to post this list as a reminder that life is way toooo short to be “normal”!

  14. definitely too short wasting time worrying about being like everyone else.

  15. Diane Turner

    This list is a wonderful reminder of how not to live our lives. Bless you for posting it. It’s so easy to forget and slide back into routines that are familiar, normalizing. Thanks a bunch.

  16. Love this list Jeremy.

    I have not perfected the art of being extraordinary..but that’s my confession anyway. I am on that road and am staying put, no matter what.

    I would add “do not attempt anything when you feel afraid” but fear is already in the list 🙂

    Great post.

  17. I agree with you Ngina that you have to be intentional about it. The desire to be normal seems to be a default.

  18. How about never ask for help, never admit you don’t know.


  19. Yeah, I’m guilty of that one too.

  20. Jdw_ks

    May we add:  Care deeply about the good opinion of others.

    Thanks for your writing and slinging freedom.  I find it very inspirational and real.


  21. I am guilty of that one too. Thanks for the kind words, Jason.

  22. This is brilliant!  Normal?  Not for me, thanks! 

    This would be a perfect post for my Make Good Choices Project on exactly what NOT to do!

    Let me know if you’re interested in a guest post opportunity.

  23. I don’t want to be normal either, but I find myself slipping into normal habits all of the time. The key is to establish the less normal habits.

  24.  Yep:  we have to be intentionally abnormal.  Sounds a bit quirky, but it’s true.

    The world is FULL of “normal”.  And while I feel that I have to conform to a lot of it; I really want my life to be different than “normal”.  Much different.

  25. Boyersr

    You know your wife probably wouldn’t be watching TV if you weren’t setting there trying to write/work.  Maybe you two could communicate.

  26. I discovered your blog on the Armchair Genealogist and have been reading the posts. I read this post with interest because I have learned to celebrate the fact that I am not normal. However, looking at the post about compensation, I can see where I have work to do. Somehow, you have managed to capture the language that makes these profound thoughts simple and understandable. Thanks

  27. Thank you for the kind words, wordstock.

  28. Growing up, I had a very abnormal childhood and instead of embracing it and my own unique qualities, I spent the majority of my life trying to be like everyone else, to the point that I developed an eating disorder and became suicidal. Thank you for reminding us that normal is not an ideal to work toward.

  29. This is priceless Jeremy! Thanks for painting a very clear picture for all of us!

  30. Ah! A very encouraging read. Thank you!

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