Imagine you have the task to nominate one of your acquaintances as a “normal” person. Take your time. Go through all the people you have met or seen somewhere in your life and still can recall. Envision them in front of your inner eye one by one. Whom would you pick?
It took me a while going through all those faces and memories to eventually face my truth of being unable to fulfill the task. I couldn’t think of a “normal” person in my life. Instead one big question started looming over everything:
“What exactly is normal?”
If I was to pick a person, I had to intimately understand the concept of being normal. Not trusting myself to come up with an objective standard for such a category, I turned to reading up other people’s thoughts on the matter. There has been said a lot about people, but not too much about what actually is to be understood as normal. We can learn a lot about how people failed to meet society’s standards, just to learn that society’s standards are varying with time and location. Being normal seemed to be less a concrete concept than a fussy notion born from perpetuating one’s notion about what should be right by passing it on to one’s offspring and general surroundings.
Being normal therefore is depending on a magnitude of factors ranging from personal ones like age, gender or ethnicity over social ones like standing, religion or occupation to general ones like the mentioned time and place. So depending on where you are finding yourself in this matrix your notion of normal will be different from that of a person at a different position of this matrix. Your place in the matrix is determined by who you make yourself out to be. So normal for anybody should be to be like oneself. But we rarely call ourselves normal. Why is this the case?
If the matrix was super granular, taking into account every single possible variable then everyone would be normal and would have his or her very own position in the matrix. Our usual view on the matrix of normal is one that takes into consideration only a few of the possible variables and mostly those that can be asserted and compared from the outside, thereby not only establishing the boundaries of normal but also forming groups of people who all fall into the same category of normal. These people are all unique beings, differing in many aspects and being united by the few factors selected to classify them as a group of reference. Comparing ourselves to this group we see our differences very sharply and can often only come to one conclusion:
“I need to be different to fit in, to be normal.”
There is just one little thing we are forgetting and which the exercise at the beginning of this blog brings to light so beautifully. If we took the time to compare anybody else with the rest we would also come to the same conclusion. They fit just as good or bad to normal as we ourselves do. We see this more clearly the better we get to know someone. Why? Because we simply get to know more and more of the variables that weren’t taking into account when establishing the reference group of normal. This let me to the following conclusion:
“No one ever will or even can be normal, except he or she defines him- or herself as normal.”
This would give us just as many normals as there are people alive. Everybody would be normal. In this case normal would have no boundaries. And even more important, everybody would be okay just as he is. Nobody could be compared with somebody else. The only comparison possible would be with oneself. Each person would be an entity of one, connected to everybody else through the human experience and enriching the life of everyone around him with his or her uniqueness.
Normal would be a bandwidth instead of a static boundary, a fluid concept of possibilities.
If we go with the idea that normal is being ourselves in our best version of ourselves we could break free. We could open up. We could see ourselves and everyone around us in their own unique beauty. We could see that their normal enriches our normal and vice versa. Openness and understanding are the first steps to connection. Connection is what makes us feel at home and being appreciated and loved.
Reading through many articles about different normals (sex, religion, politics, country, age, gender, ethnicity, …) I was deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn and be open to new normals. I learned so much, was invited to step into the shoes of somebody else and experience their normal for a while. It has been an amazing journey. So I close by inviting you to take your own little journey, an experiment of questions and to go about it with an open heart and mind when you explore the question of what normal could be for you?