What is 'Normal'?


< Psychology

When you Google ‘normal’, this is what the results throw up: ‘conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected’. However, who defines what the ‘expected’ is or the ‘standard’ or what ‘usual’ is? Being ‘normal’ in today’s society seems to change every day, especially when ‘normal’ and ‘perfect’ are seemingly constantly confused and seemingly impossible to define.

When you start to interrogate the idea of ‘normality’ further, I can only come up with one conclusion: there is no normal idea of ‘normal’.

Having said that, as a cleft lip and palate patient, it is often easy to feel more noticeably different to other people. When we’re born, we have not developed as ‘expected’ or like ‘usual’ babies, so these differences can make us feel isolated or ‘ab’normal.

However, I firmly believe difference is something to be celebrated: I recently found a PSHCE exercise book from when I was in Year 4. There was a sheet in there where you had to write about yourself. One of the questions was along the lines of ‘What do I like about myself?’ and I had written that I liked my nose because it was ‘special’. Sadly, this uplifting attitude deteriorated as I grew up and was faced with the self-conscious anxiety of teenage-hood.

Seeing my eight-year-old answer reminded me that under the surface of society’s pretentions and ideas of ‘normal’, ‘special’ is what we should be concerned with.

Instead of wanting to be ‘normal’, I think it’s important to want to be unique: to not conform to others’ expectations – in any part of your life. Being unique makes you far more interesting to be around, it means you don’t shy away from your differences, but that you embrace and celebrate them.

‘Normal’ may be impossible to define, and whilst it is something we may think we need to be, being unique is something we should strive to be. Forget boring normality and embrace individual awesomeness.

#WhatIsNormal

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© 2020 by Beth Angella.

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