Post originally published as part of Sunday Newsletter feel free to sign up here.
“I can try to define “being normal” as (consciously or unconsciously) not being yourself in attempts to act under more socially-accepted means. ” – Marcella Chamorro
Over 20 years ago, on June 6, 1992, my family and I where on a plane moving back to Puerto Rico. I was born on the Island but my parents moved on two separate occasions.
On the second occasion we lived in Connecticut for approximately 10 years. This marks a milestone in my life where the big change in environment helped me realize, I was not normal.
My Experiences with Gang Violence
In Bridgeport, CT, gang violence surrounded me and the city was known to have one of the highest crime rates in the United States.
For me it was normal to throw myself on the ground every time we heard gunshots fired or run for safety every time we saw something that might pose a threat. I can continue with a laundry list of situations that I don’t wish any adult, much less a child, to experience. Good or bad, these situations helped me form who I am today.
Some of the courage I have today is tied to those experiences where as I kid I had to dig deep and be street smart to make sure I was not harmed. I was not successful all of the time but then I had my Dad (Don Tito), Mom, my older brother Luis and my fearless brother Javier, who would step in and stand by me to diminish any possible threat. I was blessed with such understanding, balanced, and forward thinking parents who also let me attempt to figure things out and would step into help if I could not do it on my own.
A Better Place, Sort of
Upon my arrival in Ponce, Puerto Rico, my parents made a huge sacrifice and put me in private school. We lived in a better neighborhood and I can say the quality of life increased for all of us. Personally, I felt like I was an outcast especially at school.
It took me years to finally feel somewhat part of the group because I used to live in a neighborhood full of violence. Most of my peers would have never understood want I went through and might have even thought I was making fake stories of my horrible experiences.
Kids can be Cruel, but even one kid can make a big difference
In 10th grade, I remember becoming friends with Carlos Pacheco. He was new to the school and most of my female classmates thought he was cute. We quickly became friends with Carlos and thanks to him I became closer to my high school classmates.
Carlos and I are from different backgrounds but him being the new kid in school with an awesome attitude (which was not normal with my high school classmates) helped me get over many of my own issues. I am grateful that in just a year, Carlos taught me many life lessons and I also understood that it was ok not to be “normal”.
Not a Normal Adult Life
As an adult, I am not normal compared to many living in Puerto Rico. Since I am not a fan of drinking, partying, or eating meat much less pork, I am once again looked upon as an outcast. On most occasions I reject meals because they are not vegan friendly. I am given strange looks as if I was from Mars or Jupiter.
I also don’t have the normal work hours many people my age believe they need to have. I don’t have a boss to report too; the only person I am accountable too is my daughter Daniela who pretty much decides part of my day.
Having many responsibilities, I have to be accountable to my clients and business partners, but I don’t have to worry that a decision will impact me in my next performance report (like the good old days when I worked at KPMG where performance was a popularity contest). My performance report is gauged by how happy my clients are and not how happy I made my boss feel.
Not being normal also leads to a harder explanation how I make a living.
My background like your background, differentiates us from everyone else in this world. I am sure nobody has experienced what you and I have. For that reason I don’t understand why so many people fight so hard to fit in and be considered normal.
Why Fit in?
So next time you are fighting to fit in or trying to be normal, please, stop and think if your real friends, family members, and those around you, who enjoy your presence, would embrace you instead of rejecting you.
I can surely say I accept you the way you are and yes we might have differences but I am ok with both of us not being part of the norm.
- When was the last time you tried to be normal?
- Why did you do it?
- Was it worth it going through all that trouble to reach your objective?
Feel free to hit reply and share your experiences I might have a few more to share via email also. You all know where to find me.
PS: Big thanks to Marcella Chamorro who helped me define what “Normal” is to her. Like Marcella, I am also alerting others that I am not normal by wearing some not so normal Vibram Shoes even to client meetings.
What do you do to let others now your different?
By the way, if you know of any other people who would like to read a not so normal newsletter like this, feel free to forward this newsletter and ask them to subscribe.
New York, here I Come
I will be speaking at Jeff Pulver’s 140 Conference in New York in June. I am very excited and thankful that my proposed topic “Changing Fitness Habits One Update at a Time” got chosen.
I have not been to New York in a few years and I have many great memories of working in the city.
If you will be in New York and want to attend the conference, register today for a price of only $199 (good only until April 26th.) Afterward the price will be $495. Jeff is in the process of curating the conference schedule and confirming the remaining speakers for the event. Click HERE to register.
Let me know if you are interested by hitting reply.