Normal has a way of sneaking up on me.
Last September, if you had told me that I’d end up in New York City on my first East Coast modeling tour within a year, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me that it would come just a few months after a modeling trip to Paris, I’d have believed you even less. It would sound fantastic, almost too good to be true.
But I did. There I was, in New York City. . .complaining about it.
Why was I complaining? Because I was convinced I wasn’t doing enough interesting things with my life. Sure, I was traveling, but I’d met lots of other traveling models by now—wasn’t it normal?
I’m constantly amazed at how I can normalize incredibly good things. I can travel across the country and have it feel normal. When I come home, the trip feels like it was never real.
Years ago, traveling around the country as a professional model was a goal on my life list. I swore that if I ever accomplished it, I’d always be proud of myself. But once I had achieved that dream, my life didn’t magically change for the better. I wasn’t constantly happy; the dream just became the norm.
It’s like having a patch of quicksand that eats my experiences. Changes in life—a modeling trip, a new job or relationship—cause ripples while they’re happening. Sometimes these ripples persist for days or even weeks. But once it sinks into the pit of normalcy, I don’t notice the new bulge under the mud. I just get used to it.
And I complain about it. A lot.
I complained to my boyfriend over the phone. And I complained to my best friend, Keira Grant, who I was traveling with. Both of them were saints and put up with my whining. They also tried to reassure me that I was, in fact, doing something interesting with my life.
It didn’t particularly help, but something they mentioned in passing did. It turns out they had both felt the same way too, at one point or another. Here were two people that I looked up to, and they had trouble with the norm too!
This was comforting. It reminded me that I’m not alone, and it isn’t just me. People I admire get sucked into the norm as well. With that in mind, it was much easer to see extraordinary things for what they were. It became easier to excavate things out of the quicksand.
That realization has helped more than anything. Now I talk to other people when I notice the norm creeping in, and it helps me keep perspective.
But sometimes I don’t have other people around to talk to, or I can’t for some reason or another. When that happens, I’ve started reviewing my life list.
My life list is a document of all the major goals I’ve accomplished, and all the ones that I’m working towards. That external reminder of my hopes and dreams is almost as good of a perspective shifter as talking to a friend. It’s hard to argue that something’s unremarkable when it’s right there on my list of stated goals. And if my goals don’t line up with it, then I know I should change something.
The norm still has a way of sneaking up on me. It’s still easy to let things slip, and I still complain. But now when I do, I have a couple of reminders to help me with my perspective. I tell myself that other people feel this way, and that I’m still working towards my goals. And that has made all the difference.