What Does it Mean to Be Normal?
“Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” – Albert Camus.
What is “normal”? According to the Oxford Dictionary, normal is “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”. In life, some things are undeniably normal – a temperature of 98.6 degrees, twelve months in a year, water boiling at a certain temperature. But what does it mean to live a normal life?
What does it mean to BE normal?
Most of us start developing an idea about what is normal almost as soon as we exit the womb. It is not our own perspective that decides what is normal, but rather that of our parents, siblings, and peers. Normal may equate to having two cars instead of one, not allowing television after 8 p.m., or living in a co-parent situation instead of a traditional married, two-parent household.
Perspectives of what is normal are imprinted on us at a young age and affect how we view life. They also influence our reactions as adults when society and the realities of life challenge what we learned as a child. What happens when “normal” isn’t the standard, the typical, or the expected? What if the standard, typical, or expected in your life is vastly different from those around you? Does that equal abnormal? And how do you know what is normal for you? College, 2.5 kids, climbing the corporate ladder, saving for retirement?
Is normal the same for everyone?
I spent the better part of my teen and young adult years trying to fit into the mold of what I thought was “normal” – certainly what I thought was expected. I attended church, got a job, obeyed the speed limit, and planned for my future as a professional. I bought a house, got married, and lived a typical suburban existence. But I wasn’t happy. I tried to be happy. I tried to make myself into someone that would be accepted, expected, and the person that I thought the world around me wanted. For all my energy and trying, it was never enough. No one realized the internal conflict I was experiencing. No one knew that my typical and expected existence was draining the deepest parts of my being.
The energy I spent trying to be normal was exhausting and eventually, I had to give up. Had to let go.
It took me several years and drastic changes in my situation to realize the reason for my unhappiness was the fact that I didn’t want a normal life. I wanted, and still want, an extraordinary life. So I bottled up the energy previously spent on trying to be normal and applied it to searching deep within myself to find out who I am at an authentic level.
Definitely not the dictionary definition of normal.
Once I stopped trying to be normal, I realized that what is normal for me – who I am – is not abnormal, it’s just not cookie-cutter. It may not look like the usual, typical, or expected, but it is reflective of who I am at a fundamental, authentic level. And in a world of facades, stereotypes, and clichés, how can being authentic to oneself be a bad thing?
What would society look like if people stopped trying to fit themselves into molds they weren’t designed for? If people stopped living their lives based on the expectations of others and really just lived for themselves? Lived for their own interests, beliefs, faith, and ideals? What if judging others based on their being “different” or “abnormal” by our standards was replaced with realizing the beauty of each unique individual?
Could society function without the bias, discrimination, and expectations?
What would our relationships be like if the focus was on accepting others rather than expecting others? Would our parents, siblings, and peers finally see us for who we really are? Would they embrace it? Or would they be disappointed that their perspectives had not taken root?
Does it matter?
In a world where so much is expected of so many, there is great peace in knowing that it is okay just to be me. Knowing that I no longer have to try to be someone else, because I am enough. I made my own success. I overcame extreme obstacles. And I have come to the realization that as short as life is, energy spent on trying to be anything other than what I am is wasteful. I may never reach the pedestal of someone who is usual, typical, or standard – and that’s fine.
I am who I am.
I love deeply.
Believe in miracles.