Today, I wish to break from fiction and address a very personal reality. Normality. It’s a subject many shy away from yet try so hard to master. Normal. Many cringe at the word.
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines normal as this: “conforming with, ashering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has eight definitons of normal, the most prominent being definition 2a and b: “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle;” “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.” Simplified, society wants us to believe normal is fitting in.
But this poses a question: fitting into what? So let me ask a different question. What even is “normal?” Is there even a “normal?” Truthfully, the answer is no. Why? Because everyone has their own definition of “normal,” their own standard. What’s normal to one person may seem odd to the next. For instance, some may think pink is a normal favorite color. I think pink is hideous, and lime green is a normal favorite color. Others will say lime green is hideous, and black is a normal favorite color. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Frankly, “normal” is an out-of-date cliche people use as an excuse to give up on being themselves. How many of us have done something because we thought it would make us “normal?” Whether it be trying a new style, adopting new phrases, becoming someone different, etc. That brings the next question.
Why are we so afraid to be ourselves?
We need to open our eyes. When we gain the acceptance of “normal,” we lose our identity. The identity that is unique to us and us alone. You can hate me for saying this, but acting “normal” is living a lie. And don’t take me for being self-righteous or condescending. I’m only trying to convey the truth.
I’m not immune. I fall into society’s grasp everyday. I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t done or said something because I didn’t want people to think I’m weird. I want to fit in, too. Yet, I want everyone to know I’m not “normal.” It’s always been a struggle. A fine line to balance. All my life, I’ve tried to go against the flow. Purposefully displayed myself as different. And I’ll be honest. Being defiant against society’s mold has its costs.
I’ve grown up with only two or three close friends. I struggled with depression for more years than I should have. I cried myself to sleep almost every night, wondering what was wrong with me. One night, my dad asked me what was wrong. I confessed that I desired to be normal. He merely looked at me and asked why. I was shocked for several moments, then lamented about my lack of friends. He then asked if I wanted people to like a fake me or a real me.
I ponder his words to this day. And it only brings me back to the beginning. Is there even a “normal?” On deeper reflection, maybe there is. But a different kind of normal. A normal that’s true to ourselves, not the “normal” society holds over our heads. As long as we conform to ourselves and follow our own pattern. Only we can decide who we are going to be. This brings me to my final question. Are you going to follow society’s “normal,” or are you going to set a precedent for your own kind of normal that only you can follow?