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How to Survive a Norman F…ing Rockwell:

He’s self-obsessed, you don’t need to be stressed.

Credit: Pitchfork


“Goddam man-child” is right Lana.

Gosh, how could we have not seen it? How could we have not noticed the person whom we felt was the single most important thing to us for months, or maybe even years, would have made a more sensible bond with a 10-year-old you used to babysit? But I mean, really how could we have known when they put on the most exceptionally immature, flawed though perfect performance. How did they do it?

Confusion often enters our minds as teenage girls as we realize how much of ourselves we lose by being in a one-sided, manipulative situation many consider their perfect relationship.

What better coping strategy then listening to Lana Del Rey as she indirectly describes every emotion and string of hope you’re battling with, as you lay face down in your pillow trying to challenge her and convince yourself you are the issue. That it’s not him.

I’m sorry, too specific? I get it. We have all been there, and if you haven’t, don’t feel left out! You will. It’s the basic cycle of the wrong-person, right time scenario. But this isn’t a pity party. You, in fact, are the issue.

But before we dig into that, let’s just assess the damage. Songwriter Lana Del Rey crafted the song “Norman F…ing Rockwell” to relate to you, to understand you. If you have felt yourself in the position of a trap disguised as love which you could not seem to escape, despite trial and much error, many others understand you too. We are young, love is confusing, but it should never fail; if it does, was it really ever love? Lana tells you in her song how good a “Rockwell” is at making you believe it is.

It's not.

How do we avoid it then, right? The crave for a spark of love from someone overruling the dysfunctionality they create.

Well, Lana gave you a guide, you just have to listen to it.

She begins with the unfortunate verse of how he is just so fun and wild, her Norman, that is. Being young, fun, and possibly wild ourselves, we can see how this might, well, suck to have to avoid. Naturally we yearn for someone who shares the ability to have a good time. And, while I’m all for having a good time, there’s a difference in sharing that between the two of you dynamically, and him channeling everything into living that way to a point so forgone that he becomes blindsided to you as a person. You now become merely his sidekick for seemingly “fun” moments as he acts as if you are not even there physically, so you are pretty sure he cannot even see you mindfully. And if he cannot “see” you, why then are you even there at all? That is the difference.

You deserve to be seen, to be heard, and to be acknowledged. Nothing less.

Know that.

Sexual gratification.

Lana pries at this topic in her song as she confesses Norman almost made her say exactly what he wants to hear: I love you (just because of great sex). Often the feeling of conflict within a relationship seems as if it can be immediately repaired intimately in the minds of young people. Though, it is merely a distraction. A Norman F…ing Rockwell knows this, they are aware of this influence as it is taken advantage of with success. The risk of having to go seek lust in someone else outweighs the cost of not having love now, so you use this as a positive outlet to cling on to. Our minds get wrapped up in this diversion, naturally choosing to ignore the bad, hyper focus on this good, and continue on. Yet, how can you sustainably continue when the only thing balancing you both is a sensual tension. We give every inch of ourselves over and in return lose part of us. Our worth. You are worth more than having to ignore the bad. You are worth having more good than what is lustfully apparent. You are worth soul awareness.

You don’t have to distract, ignore, and pretend in love.

Know that.

Later in the song, the term man-child is again repeated, not in a condescending way, but an appropriate manner. Norman, like a child, lives in his own world believing so heavily that it revolves around him. She explains how he literally talks to the walls when the “party gets bored” of him. In other words, he whole-heartedly feels everything he has to say is so permanently important he cannot shut up about it, he cannot take a hint, and in no way does he pay any mind to anyone else but himself. Figuratively, Lana tries to tell us a Norman F…ing Rockwell is pompously programmed. They can’t help but to find themselves longing to be the center of attention, even if that does mean talking to walls.

In a relationship, all this causes is distance. He should not feel the need to constantly seek recognition and validation from others. You should be enough for him. You should not have to try to consistently fight for the attention of a child.

You are enough. More than enough.

Know that.

I think that you get the idea that Lana is trying to tell you.

You must know and understand that you cannot keep wishfully seeking to find something within someone that was just never there to begin with. But you didn’t. You kept hoping for change or resolution. That’s why you are the issue.

I know that’s a bit harsh, but you should never have to continuously hope and forage for love. Genuine love from someone will always present itself. If it never did, it was never there.

It is so often that we hold it to ourselves to give everything we have and everything we know to try to change someone who never gave a single thing, for the desire to mend all that was shattered in the process.

That in itself was an act of love. You were just doing what you knew was right. Trying to show the one you cared for so deeply that you did so by never giving up.

The hardest part is accepting that they never did. That they gave up before they even started. Accepting that if they shared the love you held on to every second even remotely, then they would have never inflicted all that they did. Accepting that it happened, because life is just a giant timeline filled with lessons necessary for growth. Accepting that even though it did hurt you in ways only you know, you have grown. Accepting that you now understand what you yearn for in a relationship by going through the exact opposite. Accepting and knowing you deserve everything that a Norman F…ing Rockwell is not.

You cannot go back and change the unchangeable or fix the unfixable. But the power you do hold is that of moving forward. Your love is far too significant to be tampered with and strung along.

Give yourself that. Give yourself the satisfaction of knowing you grieved, knowing you grew, knowing you survived, and knowing you’re strong enough to continue on.

And, if you are reading this and can relate to it, knowing you are loved.


Tessa May (@tessmmay) is a first year Online Cultural Editorial Writer for Rowdy and an Advertising student at the University of Florida. In her free time you can find her at the gym listening to old Taylor Swift, at Opus with her friends, spending mass amounts of money on things she never needs, or re-watching the Vampire Diaries (duh).


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