Don’t worry about being ‘NORMAL’

Being normal is overrated. What is normal? The first dictionary entry I found when I searched ‘define normal’ said this :

conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.
“it’s quite normal for puppies to bolt their food”
synonyms: usualstandardordinarycustomaryconventionalhabitualaccustomed, expected, 

I’m sorry for puppies, but I guess that is normal for them. But look at the other words.

USUAL. STANDARD. ORDINARY. CONVENTIONAL.

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t fit into those categories, by the sheer fact that not that many people read blogs at all and not that many people read blogs about being normal. Good for you! You are EXTRA-ordinary, non-conventional, unusual, non-standard. That’s great! That means you are special!

SPECIAL: Possessing unique qualities, rare, one of a kind, non-conforming.

And if you want to know more, the word normal comes from the word norm, so here is a link to a full definition of that word. Another way of looking at normal is with a bell curve graph of classroom grades. The norm would be the majority of the students grades in the middle of the graph and and the minority  on the  two ends. Thankfully I was in the middle most of the time, but not everyone is so blessed.

 http://teaching.monster.com/benefits/articles/5658-why-grading-on-the-curve-hurts

I have spent way too much of my life having anxiety over the fact that I’m NOT like other people and wishing I was , for some reason. We all know the reason. It’s because we are told that fitting in is best, in SO many ways. It’s the first thing you are taught in school , but even before that, just by watching TV, participating in daily life, listening to your parents, reading Children’s books. The message is clear. Follow these rules. Act like this. BE this person. But what if you’re not?

Children who don’t conform are subject to scrutiny and punishment. Loud children are told to be quiet. Active children are told to sit down and be still. Skinny kids are ‘fattened up’ and fat kids are put on diets. Eat these foods, wear these clothes, play with these toys, read these books, enjoy these activities, join these groups, have these goals, like this music, follow these trends , or something must be wrong with you. You develop the idea that you are not like everyone else. You are the only one who doesn’t fit in. Which is not true! Children are very intuitive and pick up on disapproval. If you are reading this and your child is the one who is not normal, please, I beg you, make sure to not transmit disappointment to your child. Love and appreciate and value  your special , unique, non-conformist child.

As a child I was not a conformist. I was ‘normal’ as far as the basics, not diagnosed with anything, at least. Thankfully my mother was not one to take us kids to the doctor a lot. If I had been born in this era, I’d probably have been put on some kind of medication for ADHD or labeled with something like Aspergers Syndrome or Social Anxiety Disorder. I also had undiagnosed food allergies that caused me a lot of digestive pain and problems as well as food cravings and emotional problems later on. But even now with a better diet, I’m still different.

As a child, I was different in that I didn’t want to go to school or participate in group activities. Those things gave me anxiety. I liked people and still do, but on my terms. Sometimes my unique way of looking at life meant that I was seen as difficult. In fourth grade I wrote a paper on how I wish I lived in France.  My teacher was disturbed and said I wasn’t patriotic ! My mom was not worried. I still want to go to France.

As an adult, I am still not a joiner, although I like groups of people , just not being forced into them or required to be there at certain times or days. I like to observe and take in the sights, which is about all I can do  because of my ADD. I can’t really focus that well when the scene is loud and busy. So when my oldest son turned out to be ‘different’ like me, I decided that home-school was the best option. And honestly, it was best for both of us. I tried putting him in a couple of schools and the pressure to make him fit in and follow rules was very stressful on both of us. I felt like a bad mother and he felt frustrated. Of course I think my son is wonderful and a genius, most adults did not like that he couldn’t sit still, shut up and do what everyone else was doing. He tried! Once he got in big trouble for cussing in a Little League game. Gimme a break.  I’m happy to report that my unique, gifted, musically talented son grew up to be a fully-functioning, self-supporting, completely home-schooled adult and he still cusses.

There are lots of unique people out there and now we can find each other, thanks to the wonders of the internet, the online world, social media, whatever you want to call it. I’m so thankful for America Online and Windows 3.1 ! I joined the online world back when desktop computers were huge and expensive and dial-up connections were super slow. My old Compaq computer had primitive graphics and a dot-matrix printer and almost no hard-drive compared to today’s offerings. But we loved it! My son was 2 years old when he first tried using a computer  and he took to it instantly playing all the Broderbund games and Learning Company software. Oh the fun hours spent playing Busytown , Reader Rabbit, and later The Oregon Trail and Carmen Sandiego. Computer games taught my kids reading and math and many skills.

Interesting article about the early world of computers

Meanwhile I spent hours creating my Geocities page ( later deleted by them, much to my eternal sadness) and discovering Yahoo Groups, an email forum. I am still friends with the women I met in those day, but now it’s on Facebook and Instagram. We are a unique bunch. None of us are ‘normal’. We have large families of children who were born at home, breastfed, not immunized, and homeschooled. Most of us are Christians and Bible-believers. And that is awesome! I also have a different network of friends who have special needs kids like my daughter. Some of them are ‘normal’ people, but they are still great folks who helped me adjust to life with a child with a rare condition and shared information that most doctors didn’t even have at that time. By normal, I mean, they fit the more standard ways of life in our American society, two kids, two incomes, suburban lifestyles. I also have my newest network of friends, my running friends that I have discovered are a mix of normal people and special people. A large number of runners are very special and have unique careers and lifestyles, but there are also many that have mostly regular lives, but escape them by running in the woods or even on roads.

Learn to appreciate your uniqueness, don’t fear it like I did. Scientifically, there is a very broad spectrum of normal behavior. As long as you’re not hurting another person or infringing on someone’s rights, do your thing! As a Christian, I do believe certain actions are prohibited, and most moral codes would include similar rules, such as do not kill, steal, lie, cheat, etc. But you can dress, talk, and do whatever makes you happy. Love yourself, love others, but that doesn’t mean you have to be super social or even go to parties. Or if you are super social, you don’t have to be an expert at it. It’s okay to be awkward. There are people who will be your friend anyway. I know because I’m social and socially awkward and I have friends. Ignore the rude people who truly think they are better than other people. Pity them. Pray for them. Because YOU are special !

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