Who Gets to Decide If Normality Is Real, Anyway?
I have always hated little sayings and phrases that involve the word normal such as, “Try to act normal,” “Can’t you just be normal for once?” and even “You’re not normal.” It makes you really have to think hard about what normality even means and to who? Who gets to define and decide what is or isn’t normal in our society? In our everyday lives? Is there some kind of formal typed up guidelines that I never received the memo for that we were all supposed to follow in order to be looked at as being normal? If so, I think my guidelines got lost in the mail!
Normality Is in The Eye of The Beholder
To be quite honest, I believe that normality is in the eye of the beholder. What’s normal to you might not be normal to me and vice versa. Everyone is made completely unique from our fingerprints, to the way we talk, act, and think. Even identical twins can look alike and yet be completely different in all other aspects. We are all born to be different yet too many of us want to look and be just like everyone else as long as they are classified under the normal category.
I say forget normality and dare to stand out from the crowd and all of the bleached blond, starving lookalikes. Just be you and who ever you want to be. I think we were brought up to feel like we have to follow certain standards in order to fit in like making sure our clothes match, that we edit what we say and do so we don’t come off as being too different from everyone else, that we should only be a certain body weight, that our hair should look a certain way, and so on.
With changing times and people wanting to be a bit more unique these days and fighting for their right to personal expression, it is hard to believe that we are still being compared to certain standards out of fear of people thinking that we might be a bit odd or strange. We need to stop asking everyone, “Is this normal?” and just do what feels right to us.
“Can’t You Just Be Normal for Once?”
Having someone say, “Can’t you just be normal for once?” when a person is only showing off their silly side can really dampen or even extinguish that person’s inner flames. It can make them feel like they were doing something wrong or that something is wrong with them all because they were just trying to be themselves. Sometimes people have no idea how much their words can sting and suck the life out of other people. But when the person they are throwing these harsh phrases out at happens to have a mental illness, such words can be even more unforgettable and traumatizing.
People with mental illnesses have never seemed to fit in with societies standards of normal anyway, so when you say harsh things about not being normal to someone who already feels outcasted the damage can be irreversible. While not running with the crowd can sometimes feel almost freeing since we aren’t confined to someone else’s standards, no one wants to feel like an outcast. And just because you or I may act different from everyone else does not mean that we are automatically outcasted, the feeling of being outcasted only grows stronger the more people try to tell us to act like a normal human being. For some people, they hate being picked on for being different so much that they get to the point where they will dull down their bright personalities to please others until the spark that they once had in their eyes are gone.
Normality & Mental Health Stigma
Part of the mental health stigma can stem from the old normality debate. People with mental health disorders are often seen by many people as being different, and if you’re different then you must not be normal. People fear different; they fear what they don’t know much about. If everyone would stop trying to classify things as either normal or abnormal it will not just only help tear down some of the walls surrounding mental health stigma but a lot more people might feel comfortable in their own skin. We need to stop judging people on their differences because if we weren’t all different, we would seriously lead a boring and adventure lacking life.
We are human. We aren’t meant to be cookie cutter cutouts who all act alike, dress alike, and talk alike.
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.