“You’re shockingly normal,” a guy I’d been out with a few times said to me recently.

My first thought was HAAAAAHAHAHAHA! AHA! AHAHA!

But I figured I should take advantage of his fleeting glossy perception of me and say something profound, so I responded with, “Honestly, I’m just as messed up as everyone else–I just know myself really well.”

(And I saw the fear in his eyes and knew we’d probably never speak again, but it was all worth it for the blogging inspiration :D. )

You see, from the outside, appearing ‘normal’ and knowing ourselves well enough to dance with our demons present very similarly: 

For the billions of us who live with…psychological complexities, we know eternally silencing our internal war may be unrealistic. Besides, some of the ‘soldiers’ offer strengths alongside the challenges they bring to our lives (for example, depth, creativity, perseverance, sensitivity, empathy, curiosity, etc.). BUT learning how to anticipate and diffuse the next battle is, in the timeless words of All Saints, where it’s at.

The way to experience joy alongside the rest of the feelz is to get to know yourself really, really well. To understand all the players, their combat style, the lay of the land, etc; to know your triggers, your vulnerabilities, what makes things worse and what makes things better; to be a friend or coach to yourself in the process, with patience and compassion and encouragement; to learn how to sit with discomfort without reacting impulsively; to recognize where you could use help–and to know when and how to ask for it.

It’s been more than five years since I fit the diagnostic criteria for depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder, but it’s not because there was some sort of spontaneous evaporation of my struggles. It’s because through many years of therapy, self-inquiry, education, and yoga I got to know my demons inside out. I got to know how stress, sleep, connection, hormones, nutrition, exercise, spirituality, meditation, self-compassion, and purpose influence my mood. And now, I feel equipped to deal with the cray when it come ’round.

So instead of trying to suppress the depression or anxiety or attachment issues you believe lower your stock, you’re better off getting to know them all really, really well. You’ll be well on your way to being mistaken for ‘normal’…if you’re into that kinda thing 😉 .