Triggered by Albert Camus’s quote that: “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”, I wonder if the quote is completely true. Come to think of it, Camus was born 1913 and died in 1960 which means that this issue has been brought to light around a century ago. Rather than fully agreeing with the quote, I believe that most people are just too busy trying to be normal to realize that some other people are merely trying to be normal too. We are aware of this phenomenon, yet we choose not to care (or maybe we do but just don’t want to admit it).
The existence of the word ‘normal’ brings up the word ‘abnormal’ , like there is a wrong way to be a person when actually there is not. Based on the Online Oxford Dictionary, normal is an adjective which means conforming to a standard; usual, typical or expected. When people pursue the word ‘normal’, they actually pursue something that they barely understand because, in fact, it is often more difficult for people to highlight the normal value of something than it is to define something as unusual or abnormal. The concept of normality depends on subjective opinion and differs for each person in the world.
Understanding the issue deeper, there must be a reason behind the people who expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. Some of them may do it to fit in with the crowd to survive and some of them may just go with the flow, being too lazy to think of another way. To be honest, I was actually one of those folks who tried really hard to be normal. I was a very timid person who struggled socializing with people. When I saw relatives that I knew in a public area, I would rather hide and leave the place instead of waving my hand at them. I was a very punctual person and came at least half an hour early to any meeting, yet I often ended up coming into the meeting late since I was too scared to be the first person to talk to people. If by any chance you had ever met me, you may have thought I was an easy-going person, now you know that I was actually fighting myself hard inside. Realizing how far I have come now, I wonder whether all of those efforts are really worth it.
Being typical or normal is an option yet we have to understand why we choose to be it. Competing against the rapid pace of the world, figuring out issues and also options we have are important before we make any decision in life. The globalization and technological development have abolished the boundaries between people through social media. Unfortunately, this innovation not only lets people appreciate themselves and others, it also allows them to compare themselves to one another. By only looking at the happy moments that other people post on social media, they tend to envy the things other people “seem” to own and forget to be grateful for what they have, creating jealousy over something that may actually be a delusion.
Wanting to be or act as expected may also turn down other possibilities. People who want to be normal will compare their condition to something that exists or at least has ever existed. Not considering their true condition, they would close their eyes to any new possibility and choose a solution to their problem based on someone else’s experience that they consider normal. A simple example is a story from my mom’s experience a while ago. Once, my mother and her friends were told to line up and throw a tennis ball. Believe it or not, everyone threw the ball straight forward only because the first woman threw it that way. As they were afraid to do it wrong, the rests of the participants chose to follow her when they could have thrown it anywhere, farther or higher.
As the world changes, people do too. Do you know somebody who used to love listening to popular music but now chooses to listen to the unpopular indie songs? Or perhaps you know a friend who would love to travel to unique destinations to avoid the crowd in the mainstream ones? Nowadays, many people are more excited to discover something that is new and fresh, something that they consider unknown. Then, does it mean that they do not want to follow the usual and choose to be abnormal instead? Or are they actually setting the new trends as the new normal?
As we look deeper than its surface, the concept of normality is more complex than it seems. Wanting to be normal or abnormal turns out to be beyond one’s preference as it can influence how people react to each other. Unfortunately, to be viewed as normal, people are not only influenced to do good deeds. The desire may also give people the courage to do bad things merely to be ‘normal’ and accepted. As being normal also means being typical, environment plays a big role in creating a normal habitat. For example, when students cheat in a class, those who actually found it odd may get used to it and eventually see it as something normal.
Considering normal as a standard, I came to the conclusion that expending tremendous energy merely to be normal could both be a good and a bad idea, depending on the situation. I imagine a graph where “normal” is in the middle, “not normal in the bad way” is in its lower side, and “not normal in the good way” is in its upper side. From this graph, I find that it will always be a good thing to move to a higher position in the graph. In other words, if you (by any chance) have shown your uniqueness and want to hide it by being normal, expending tremendous energy merely to be normal clearly is a foolish idea. However, if you find there is actually more of yourself that you can improve by being more normal, expending tremendous energy to be normal is something you need to do. Looking back about how much energy I spent to be more social and normal, I am glad to say that trying to be normal was clearly something that I had to do and now I have improved a lot.
In the end, all of us need to be wise when making this decision in life. We need to be sincere about our true feelings and about the genuine reason behind our acts. Just be the best version of you even though you may look different from the others. In reverse, still be the best version of you even though you may seem similar to others. Some of them may say that you are weird because you are different or boring, because you are normal, yet be aware that everyone only cares about themselves and nobody actually cares about how you live your life. They may judge, but they will pass by and forget. Thus, you should not change your own true colours just because you are afraid of how they may judge you. Come to think of it, can you imagine how boring life would be if everyone was the same? Each of us were born differently and face different problems in life, whether they are normal or abnormal. If we think about it again, it is as Victor E. Frankl once said, “an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal after all”. So, do not worry too much about the “rules” and just be the best version of yourself in your situation.