Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Ditching Normal, Seeking Amazing


Sticking out from the crowd isn’t always fun. Just ask any kid, especially one in middle school. Taking an unpopular stand, joining a weird club or merely looking different can be uncomfortable, painful even. Trying to fit in, trying for normal, can make life smoother in some ways. As a psychologist and a mother of three I know well the benefits of normal and the daily struggles some face in trying to gain acceptance. It’s easier to fit in and not draw too much attention to oneself. Kids know it too.

Maya Angelou, the great champion of social justice, certainly knew it. The late author and poet, however, also learned the awesome benefits of speaking up, following her gut passion and going beyond normal. Fortunately she also had the courage and fortitude to reach for something else, not only in her own life but for countless others.


Her words give me goosebumps, chills up and down my spine!

To me, her words affirm that every person deserves to be seen and respected as an individual with their own gifts, passions, limitations and quirks. This includes both children who struggle to fit in, the ones who are bullied, alienated, persecuted, discriminated against as well as the normal kids, yes, whoever they are, whatever normal means. Every child has their our own unique talents and traits. Each should have the opportunity to discover and develop in their own special way, in other words, to become amazing.

Plenty of obstacles arise on the road to amazing. You name it. The media. Peer pressure. Academic pressures. Athletic pressures. Even well-meaning loved ones. We moms and dads bring to the task our own complicated set of expectations, hopes and fears. It’s amazing that kids can and do glimpse the amazing within themselves with so many influences trying to shape them or persuade them to be one thing or another.

Thank goodness some brave souls have taken a chance to stir up normal. If nobody bothered venturing beyond normal, we’d still think the earth was flat or that girls couldn’t be astronauts. Or that polio and measles couldn’t be prevented. It’s not easy asking a lot of questions or going against the popular crowd or accepted convention. True, for most people amazing doesn’t mean curing a terrible disease or flying to the moon but simply living life on one’s own terms and seeking something meaningful. It also means letting kids follow their interests, instincts or relationships however messy, ill-advised or unconventional. Please feel free to remind me of this in a few years if my daughter decides to major in medieval printmaking.

My wish then is for more amazing. For more kids to be amazing. And for more kids to have a chance at being amazing.

This summer you can help a child on the other side of the world be amazing. Here’s how. This month, during Shot@Life’s Blogust 2015—a month-long blog relay - some of North America's most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share inspirational quotes for their children. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000). Please join me in giving more children a shot at life and even a shot at amazing! 



51 comments:

Erin said...

What an incredible, talented woman Maya Angelou was. This is a great quote, Polly - thank you for sharing and for being part of the wonderful Blogust 2015 team!!

Kayla said...

I love this quote. I'm totally with you; everyone should have the chance to be amazing! <3

laura said...

laura said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Serena said...

Thank you for sharing this quote, and for your beautiful, powerful words!

Mrs. W. said...

Great post - thank you for speaking up against the tyranny of the normal!

Nicole Paladin said...

Wow, how have I not heard this quote before? Great reminders in this post. Thank you!

Lex Maultsby said...

Polly - I'm with you, this thought from Maya Angelou gives me chills also.

Let's work to give children a chance to be amazing. There is no higher calling for us !

Anonymous said...

Great post Polly, valuable parenting insight. To be normal or in other words, be like everyone else, is to find the safe way to sustain life. But if one wants to be alive, we have to be willing to be like ourselves. It's okay to seek security by trying to be normal, the only consequence is, we may lose out on an amazing experience of life.

Lisa Angell said...

I agree with you completely, Polly! All children should be encouraged to be amazing.... and providing vaccinations for children who currently do not have access to preventative healthcare is a blessing for all children. Kudos Polly!
Lisa Angell White

Julie Adams said...

I vote for amazingness! Thank you, Polly!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Polly.

Anonymous said...

Great post Polly, very valuable insight for parenting. To be normal, in other words, to do what is accepted by everyone else is born out of a pursuit of security. To be safe is just an attempt to secure life. To be amazing is when one wants more than just to protect life, but one wants to truly live. Normal comes with a lot of assurances, comforts and pleasures. The only cost to being like everyone else is we often have to give up our true self, ambitions and inner urgings to gain those rewards. Normal = accepted by everyone. Amazing = to accept ourself. Thanks for the read!

Andrea Riley said...

YOU are amazing. Great post!

katja said...

Lovely! Thank you for the comments and the opportunity to support vaccines!

Nicole Melancon said...

Simply beautiful Polly! So incredibly true!

Anonymous said...

great quote, thank you for helping remind people that vaccines save lives.

laura said...

What a great quote to wake up to. Thanks Polly and keep up the great work!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Thank you everybody, you were AMAZING!

Elena Sonnino said...

One of my favorite quotes!

Katie said...

Commenting for a shot! Thanks for the opportunity to do so.

Dorit Reiss said...

This is an unusually powerful statement, and something we should all tell our kids. Thank you!

Ellen Williams said...

I am so happy to get reconnected with this blog. Polly,your wisdom has always amazed to me. I was blessed to be raised in a family that encouraged individuality. "Boom, boom! Ain't it great to be crazy!" was one of our theme songs. You know that; you married one of us! I am thrilled with the way you have put into practice all those years of study and hard work. I love the way you have reviewed articles, helping us parents and grandparents separating the myths from the truth. I am delighted with this vaccination drive. Carry on, dear girl!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing!

seana graham said...

There was a great bit on Ken Burns' film about the Gettysburg address which was learned by a bunch of kids with special challenges that said something like this. The idea was that parents want their kids to be normal--for the best of reasons--but that that wish migh actually be shortchanging them.

Nice post. Thank you.

Nicole Morgan said...

How i love this - and you.
And wish you were in FL so that i can just send my children to you for guidance ... or maybe i can just send them anyway ... you know, to NJ ;)

Diane and Sam Glasgow said...

Great quote!
Thanks for making a difference!
Warmly, Diane Glasgow
Shot@Life Champion in TN

Tiany said...

Great quote, gives me goosebumps too! We need more amazing in the world and it starts with our kids!

Anonymous said...

I love Maya Angelou. She was such an amazing courageous woman. The world might be a better place if people weren't so afraid of being different.

scienceofmom said...

Thank you, Polly, this is just lovely! Here's to the awesomeness of vaccines!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing!

Felisa Hilbert said...

Just love your post! Yes we need more amazing and more children accepting that being different make them amazing!

C.C. Chapman said...

Love the quote and love WHY you shared it.

Emma said...

Promise never to try to be normal - thank you!

ashish srivastava said...

#Blogust Address http://ashish-shrivastava.place.xyz/post/55c1ef178182582a5d8b45ce/investment-for-education-health-infograp as Investment for Education & Health(Infographic-GirlChild)

tracey clark said...

Yes yes yes to more amazing!

jyl from @momitforward said...

What gives me goosebumps is the chance that up to 50,000 kids will have to have a shot at being AMAZING because of Blogust! I love this quote. I love this concept. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Your quote really resonates with me … very wise words. And thanks for being a 2015 Blogust contributor and helping the cause!

Asha Dornfest said...

Thank you for this. Proud to be a part of #Blogust with you!

Sarah Hughes said...

Love it Polly!!! Miss you girlfriend!!

The Mid Life Guru said...

Who wants to be "normal?" Happy #Blogust!!

Tanis Miller said...

I love that quote. Thanks for participating in this awesome campaign.

Kendra Frampton said...

Thanks for sharing
-Kendra from @momitforward

Nate Bradshaw said...

Thank you for moving such an amazing cause forward!

Andrea Riley said...

comment!

Andrea Riley said...

another comment

Andrea Riley said...

and i'm spent

Cynthia said...

I love the quote and agree 100%!

jana said...

Love this quote!
Happy Blogust.

Christine Crank said...

I say the same thing at work when my numbers deviate from average...."I'm not aiming for average, I'm aiming for extraordinary."

hadley said...

a perfect quote to start the school year!