Being Normal

“I sometimes feel broken, as if someone dropped me and then trampled on the pieces.”

 We live in absolutes and abstracts. If I said the word ‘chair’, we are almost guaranteed to share the same mental image. But if I said a ‘beautiful chair’ there is a great possibility that we have different mental images of what that looks like. There is as many possible variations of what a beautiful chair would look like as there are minds that hold the image. That’s because we share a cultural image of what a chair is, but beauty is a personal preference. I tell my students often that saying something is beautiful is not a description without an explanation as to why they think so.

I don’t want to delve into semantics too much here, but words are very deceptive. We think they have meaning, but they don’t. We give words meaning. Nothing exists in language unless a community of people share meaning. I love that idea. We are language, because language is nothing without us. Language is this beautiful link we share, because it’s a vast canvas we can paint meaning on (Studnets please note the use of ‘beautiful’ with an explanation. Ed).

So when someone tells me they just want to be ‘normal’, I feel my brain itch. Normal has no meaning to anyone but the individual. A ‘normal’ life for me is not necessarily a normal life for you. Normality is a vague abstract, for some people it’s more like Picasso than Michelangelo. It has about as much substance as froth on a latte, but we cling to it and drive ourselves toward it with more fervour than we dedicate to the people around us. What we hunger for is the appearance of normality, so we can fit in so we can be accepted and not ridiculed. It’s not that people want to be normal. They just want the security of being like everyone else. So I’m going to tell you a well kept secret. Come in a little closer, I’m going to whisper this… “Normal does not exist”.

I was very tempted to end the post there, but I thought I’d explain the need for the lie, because the lie both makes me smile and feel love. The lie is important because as humans we need to feel wanted. We need the company of others. It’s innate. Want proof? We care for our young. We don’t abandon them to the elements, we gather together to nurture them as a society. We are social beings and not being a part of this global species makes us unhappy and depressed. Being normal is a way of connecting to a global society. Normal, as a concept, is necessary for us to aim for that bond.

But no one is normal. We create that illusion of normal, so our children have a framework to work toward. But honestly, 7 billion people on the planet and not one of them is an exact replica of this framework. How could that even be possible with 7 billion different forms of DNA wandering around in 196 different countries speaking 6500 languages and following 4200 religions? (gotta love Google. Ed) What could possibly be ‘normal’ in so much diversity?!

Did you know that the English used by the BBC is about 40 years old? It was created as the best diction for the British public as a whole to understand. At the time presenters had to be trained to use this new dialect. Now it’s considered the universal language of Britain. But do you honestly think average Joe Britain speaks this way on a daily basis?

Society creates templates, but we don’t expect people to be clones. We have moved away from cloning our children through our education systems, moving towards the idea of free and individual thinking (although the exams system has recently been turned back 50 years. That’s because we actually believe we can measure everyone the same way!! Deep breath. Bit of a personal rant there! Ed).

Be you and you’ll find you. Be you and you will find others like you. Don’t look for normal because you will be disappointed with what you find. Be you and the world will still love you for it. Normal is what you see in the mirror, so don’t chase it.

2 thoughts on “Being Normal

  1. Love the mind puzzle that is language! I would even argue that we have different mental understandings of things as simple as “chair.” To be annoying and go on, my chair might be a wooden kitchen table chair; your’s a plush chair in a library. A word even as simple as color… “red”… still has associations different for every single one of us. That is why communication is the most difficult skill to develop, and the most valuable. It is also why understanding who we are as individuals is so amazingly hard when comparing ourselves to everyone else. But yet. We must have a template of some kind, some kind of ability to look and see the similarities, and sometimes take those and encompass them, embrace them as pieces of our identity. Lovely stuff. 🙂

    1. Beautifully said! Language, in all its complexities, is identity. We can literally define ourselves. But too often we define our individuality with negatives and not positives. Thanks for the comment. I always love comments like this.

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