What is normal

What is normal

Sometimes in life, situations crop up that are difficult to navigate, or which hold huge significance or which it’s just important to get right. No-one is going to claim to be an expert at all of these, most people start out by just guessing. But the further you go into life, the more you realise that it’s the little bits and pieces that make things easier, the small tips, the gentle hints, the advice from the past, from the experts, from the experienced. So, we’ve gathered some tips together that could (or should) make life make a bit more sense to you.

  • 1.Respect for yourself and others is key to being happy. One of the first things that we learn in life is how to treat other people decently and respect is a huge part of this. Plus, we all have probably heard of that Golden Rule of "treat others as you want to be treated." Even Jesus commands us to ‘do unto others, as you would have them do unto you’. Matthew 6:12 is just one bible verse that basically tells us to treat others how you want to be treated.
  • 2.First times matter. Whether it’s an entirely personal thing like the first time you have sex, or something a bit more generalised like the first time you meet your sister’s new boyfriend, do keep in mind that first times matter – a lot. You might be making positive memories for yourself, or making a good impression on someone important, or even just baking cakes for your new boss. The ‘first time’ is something that you never get to do again, so make it count.
  • 3.Keep yourself safe. Don’t take stupid risks after you’ve been out for a night of vodka shots - don’t wobble near rivers or take up strangers’ offers of a quick ride home. Don’t eat dodgy chicken that’s definitely been in the fridge for a week. Don’t have unprotected sex with strangers – this is an easy one to prevent. If you’re certain that you do want to have sex with someone then just make sure that you have good quality, in date condoms stashed away and ready to go. If you’re just pleasing yourself with condom choice, then you’ll find a big variety to take a look at. Even if you have some other form of contraception like an IUD or the pill, still remember to use a condom because the other methods don’t protect against STIs.
  • 4.Don’t rush important decisions. This is all about consequences – ever heard of the saying ‘you made your bed, now lie in it’? Or ‘fools rush in’? Or ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’? These are all getting after the same thing, once you’ve made an important decision – one that really matters to you – it’s often too late to go back and change your mind later. So, focus on your choices and be certain that you’re making the right ones for you.
  • 5.Keep your friends and family close. Unless you have a particularly toxic family, having your relations close is valuable. Even if they aren’t physically or geographically near you, you live in a modern age where phones, Skype, Facetime and emails exist. It’s perfectly easy to ping off an email to a relative in Florida, or organise a time for a videocall. Families are often our greatest support. Likewise with friends, take the initiative, stay in touch, organise meet-ups – these are the thing that matter to people, everyone likes to feel cared for.
  • 6.Recognise when a situation is bad for you. This can be a tricky one, there are so many situations where we think ‘I like this, it makes me feel good’ and yet it’s definitely not a good situation. The easiest example is being in a relationship with the wrong person. Feelings can cloud our vision and obscure the negative undertones and ploughing on regardless with something that isn’t right is not the way to happiness. Likewise, with a job. Especially these days when every penny counts it’s easy to bury your head in the sand and not address the problem that this job really isn’t the one for you. It might be that the wages aren’t great, that your co-workers are unpleasant to you or that the commute is so long it’s draining the life out of you. Look around for other opportunities and don’t be afraid to seize them once they come along. 
Stuart Brown
Doctor of Sexual Health at the NHS Royal London Hospital & Relationship Expert. Columnist at An advocate of safe sex. Avid Arsenal fan.

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