By Reef Karim

September 22, 2021


The word "normal" is the most destructive word in the english language.


Patterns in our childhood often become beliefs and habits in our adult life. 

“Why can’t you just be normal?” was my mom’s most frequent response to me in my childhood. 

She would say it over and over again whenever I tried to express myself creatively. 

Coming from an immigrant family desperate to fit in and live an unassuming life, I was reminded over and over again that being “normal” was a good thing. 

​​It's not, and let me tell you why...

After feeling constant pressure, I gave up exploring “me” and started to chase “normal”

It really wasn’t that hard to do. You just follow the crowd. You spread whatever idea is popular at that time; even if you don’t necessarily identify with it. You do what typical people in your profession do.



For decades, I led a “normal” life. I became a doctor and did what successful doctors do; followed the research, published, academic titles, did some teaching on diagnosis and medications.

You know, all that stuff. 

And my point of view collected dust, immersed in cobwebs, shrinking every day because expressing new and better ideas or expressing who I am, would deviate from “normal”. 

I lived that way, looking successful on paper, but feeling utterly devoid of meaning, purpose and passion, for a long time. I would work and then come home and distract myself with escapism behaviors; going out too much, watching sports, television, social media. And the cycle went on and on.

Until one day, the nagging pain of not living up to my abilities became too great. 

I believe that the worst pain we endure, greater than any broken bone or bad breakup, is the deep pain of a broken spirit, the pain of not following your original journey and living up to your innate abilities. 

I couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt like I was living someone else’s life. It was a life filled with people pleasing, playing it safe. And it felt like I lost me and never really had a chance to explore my abilities and potential. 

You see, normal = conformity. 

And my story is a common one. 

There are many people walking around this planet living a life of conformity.

And I understand why...

There is pressure EVERYWHERE to be “normal” and lead a life of conformity 

  • From parents
  • From families
  • From relationships
  • From neighborhoods
  • From communities 
  • From workplace colleagues
  • From corporate influence

Some of that pressure comes from a place of fear of being seen. Some from jealousy. Some from a fear of missing out. Some is manipulative to make us feel flawed so we’ll buy products.

Consumerism is a powerful force on our mind.

The only way to move past this constant pressure is to actively choose NOT to be normal, to not succumb to the pressure, to instead explore what makes us different, to discover our unique journey in this world; I call this our inner wisdom. 

My motto now:

Don’t Be Normal, Be You

I made the decision to shift my life, and my profession, from the traditional “normal” to the unconventional “optimal”; guiding people in their exploration to the highest levels of their human potential through creativity, originality, clarity and courage. 



For in our originality, eccentricity, vulnerability, challenges and creative madness, lies our purpose and passion. 

The next time you hear the word “normal”, think about what it really means.

For you may see that “normal” is a deeply limiting word. 

I challenge you to NOT be normal. 


To creativity, courage and connection,


- Reef




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