What is normal?

I have been asking this question for most of my life. I haven’t the foggiest idea of what it is to be normal.

Society is constantly talking about the “norms”, the things that are acceptable for people to do and be, and we judge people based upon where in this artifice they fit.

Everyone has a different definition of what is normal. These definitions get applied to different things in our lives based on our jobs, our families, our communities, our affiliations and so on and so forth. We use the term normal frequently.

A normal family. A normal job. A normal day at work. The normal drink at the coffee shop.

Normal is based on perception, but mostly it’s based on the perception of others. We view outside things as normal or abnormal or weird or freaky or simply off based on what society tells us it should be.

I believe that a lot of the conflicts we experience in our lives are due to attempts to achieve the societal perceptions of normalcy. When we fail to be normal, we draw attention to ourselves, and as such we create conflict where none should exist.

What do I mean? Let’s take relationships as an example. For a very long time a “normal” marriage was between a man and a woman. Marriage between two men or two women was not considered normal, and conflict ensued. Even when we accept same-sex marriage as normal, what about polygamy, polyamory and other such concepts of family, relationships and marriages? What makes any one more normal than the other?

This is where the problem lies. When we create what we consider a “normal”, we inadvertently also create not-the-normals. Once upon a time the “normal” family was a husband, a wife and a kid or two. Single-parent families were not normal, let alone single-gender parent families. We judged the normalcy of the people we encountered because society told us they did not meet the standard.

I grew up outside of the normal pretty much all my life. Normal family unit? Nope, single-parent family. Normal religious affiliation? Nope, raised Jewish in a predominantly Lutheran community. Played football or baseball or some sport? Nope, acted in plays and sang in choirs – even lettered in both in High School.

All my life I have been told that I am a little off. A little unusual. Weird. Geeky. Nerdy. An odd looking fellow (seriously, some random dude in Santa Fe, NM came up to me on the street out of the blue to shake my hand and tell me this). However you add it up, I have always been perceived as some flavor of unusual.

I am not what anyone would call normal. But rather than adjust myself to meet the norms, or to live up to anyone else’s judgement of normal…I embrace my abnormal existence.

I cannot begin to tell you how freeing it is to not be constrained to be “normal”. I am a much happier, more grounded soul because rather than try to make core changes against my own nature to meet someone else’s artificial understanding of what is normal, I strive to just be myself.

Pathwalking is my personal process for working to be my most genuine self. Rather than being held back to the societal norm, I am choosing instead to create my own destiny, to make my own way, to do my own thing.

It has been almost four years since I began this process. While there are still improvements to be made and room for growth, that is simply what life is all about. I have come a very long way from where I was and who I was, and I believe that I am better for it. I am overall calmer, happier, in a better place in my life, and as such more capable of receiving the things I most want to manifest for myself.

There is nothing wrong with not being normal. It gets joked about, it is the point of numerous movies and tv-shows, it’s the impetus for any number of hero’s journeys in any number of stories. The thing is, rather than take this to heart and use it to our advantage, we still attempt to place ourselves and others into what is considered “normal”.

It is not easy to break from the norm. I get asked a lot of questions by a lot of people about the how of my life that I find I am sometimes uncomfortable answering. I am not uncomfortable because I feel I have chosen poorly…I am uncomfortable because I am only human, and sometimes the fear of being judged by others can be rather disheartening. This is a part of my work in progress.

I am a Pathwalker. I have chosen and continue to create the direction of my own life. I know what I do is not “normal” in a myriad of ways…and I embrace this. I believe that if more people embrace their own weirdness, their own geekiness, abnormalities, and more importantly their own uniqueness…we all can live better, happier, more fulfilling lives.

Consider this the next time you are in a discussion or reading about the notion of “normal”. Maybe the whole concept should be abandoned, and instead we should embrace a new normal – the normal of the individual and all the quirks therein.

If you prefer to do your own thing and not be constrained by the expectations of normal, take that into consideration before you declare something, someone or some situation to be normal or otherwise.

What do you consider normal, and does normalcy restrict what you want to do and be in life?

 

 

This is the two-hundredth entry in my series. These weekly posts are ideas and my personal experiences in walking along the path of life.  I share this journey as part of my personal desire to make a difference in this world along the way.

Thank you for joining me.  Feel free to re-blog and share.

The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available in print and for your Kindle.