07 October 2011

What exactly is normal and who gets to decide?

Nor⋄mal - conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. 

     Ok, but what does that mean?  I'm pretty sure that what passes for normal in Hollywood, wouldn't pass for normal in, let's say, suburban New England or Amish Country.  So then aren't there different definitions of normal?  What is normal for one person, may not be normal for the next.  I don't see a problem with that.

     That then begs the question, "Who gets to decide what's normal?"  Who decides that what is normal for one person is abnormal for everyone else?  Who comes up with 'societal norms'?  This is where I start to have a problem.  A BIG problem.  I don't fancy myself a rabble-rouser, but don't tell me I'm wrong or abnormal, just because I don't fit into your (probably narrow) view of normal.  Don't tell me my child is not normal because he's quirky and does things differently than would you.  Don't tell me I'm not normal because I choose to rock the mom jeans and eschew those jeans that "sit below the natural waist."  Or because I (fill in the blank) and you don't.

For a country that fancies itself as embracing diversity, the US seems hell bent on having everyone the same.  If anyone falls outside of what is 'normal' ̽, instead of being celebrated they are looked at askance.  This is a problem.  There will always be people who do thing differently, who are smarter, more attractive, more athletic, richer, faster, taller, thinner, quirkier, practice a different religion, fill in superlative here, than others.  So what?  Embrace the differences.

Let's face it, not everyone wants to, can or should go to college.  Not everyone can be valedictorian or captain of the sports team.  Not everyone wants to work a hundred hours a week.  Not everyone places importance on a butt load of money. Not everyone will be a super model.  Not everyone wants to fit into the little box known as standard.  And not everyone should.

Is the issue fear or jealousy?  Maybe a little of both.  Fear of what we don't understand?  Fear that maybe we're the abnormal one?  Jealousy of what we don't have?  Jealous of what we are not?  Maybe even a little jealousy of people who take a different path because we are too afraid to try.  Is there anything we can do about this?  Who knows.  I do know that I fully embrace my own sense of normality and that of my family.  I like thinking and living outside the box.  It is certainly not boring and, I think, totally normal!  I really don't give a rat's patootie on how other people live their lives.  It is not my business.  And it is certainly not for me to judge.  I don't know who gets to decide what and who are normal, but it sure as heck isn't me.

̽̽I'm still not sure who dictates what is normal in the US.


  1. Love this and I completely agree.

    It seems to me that when people are grounded and comfortable with their decisions, they seldom need to judge others. It's usually when they aren't happy and have fear and questions about their own choices and path, that the need to point the finger at others and start judging.

    Our differences are what makes it all interesting!

  2. This is a wonderfully written article. Thank you for sharing. After watching the new FOX show "The Last Man On Earth," it really got me thinking.