What’s Normal?

I once told Himself that he wasn’t Normal. You may not be entirely surprised to hear it didn’t go down well ๐Ÿ˜‰ So I tried again, for I really & truly meant it as a compliment. My next suggestion was “not Ordinary” which was better received, but I was still getting some side-eye…

What I’d meant was not run of the mill, different from your average Joe – instead it had come out sounding like I meant deficient in some way. The thing is Himself isn’t like anyone I’ve ever met (and I’m old and have met a wide array of people), yet among his peers, he’s fairly typical. So, what is normal?

adjective: conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine.

Merriam-Webster dictionary

If we look at this definition, it doesn’t help as much as it could, for there’s still the question of who’s doing the defining of what is standard? Clearly what I think of as standard is very different to Himself and his peer group.

What doesn’t help with this whole question is that common usage can lead to subtle changes in the meaning of words. So, not normal (or abnormal) isn’t regarded as just different from the usual, for many it’s moved further down the spectrum, ending up as something more negative.

But I also wonder if being normal just isn’t considered enough any more?

At a recent networking event, we were asked to share our dreams for the future, and I found myself rejecting my normal dream – a dream which I consider entirely big enough – and replacing it with a ludicrously big one. In order to select something, I’d dug deep and picked something I’m unlikely to achieve; indeed, something I’m not entirely sure I’d even want to achieve. For I like a quiet life, I like to do good work. I like to be satisfied I’ve provided a good service to my clients, and to be financially secure while I’m at it. I honestly wouldn’t want the grief of being in the public eye – for there’s a tendency to shoot at people once they get there – and even if they’re only shooting with words, I’d prefer to avoid those slings & arrows. But I clearly felt the pressure to go big or go home and I still don’t know exactly why.

I’m not sure what the outcome of this navel gazing is – but I’d be interested in hearing opinions on what constitutes normal, and whether normality should be considered a more valid life goal.

ยฉ Debra Carey, 2021

6 thoughts on “What’s Normal?

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  1. I donโ€™t think there is a normal. I think everyone has their quirks. However, I do think that people who follow laws and act morally are more normal than those who choose not to follow laws or act immorally. I think people with diagnosed psychotic problems would probably be less than normal. Otherwise, anything goes

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  2. “Normal” is such a loaded word. It can be used both approvingly or pejoratively. No matter what you do, say or think there will be people who judge you as normal and those that judge you as “not normal”. I say be you and find your tribe, if the current one judges you outside the “norm”, in a negative sense.


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  3. Thanks for your input LA, those are interesting questions to ask myself. I’m beginning to feel this is a bigger issue (for me) than first I realised.

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  4. Deb, I’m a big fan of finding your tribe – it’s a regular refrain in my coaching practice in fact ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s probably why Himself’s immediate reaction hit home, and why I spent time trying to find the right word to capture not only the letter, but the spirit, of what I meant. I suspect there may be on-going pondering on the subject (but then I’ve a tendency to over-think stuff like this).

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  5. I had a colleague once who described her husband once as “homely. I was taken aback when she said it, especially since a photo she had on her desk showed him to be a decent enough looking guy. She repeated it several months later, and this time I spoke up and told her I thought she was wrong, that he was a good looking man. She laughed and said that she meant he was “cozy and comfortable” to be with. I told her she should say that rather than homely. In your situation, I wouldn’t think twice with “not ordinary.” That described most of friends. ๐Ÿ™‚ – Marty

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  6. Good call Marty. Words matter (as I believe you once posted), and how we chose the ones we use matters too. In this instance, I got that choice wrong. It was also the day I understood just how knowledgeable Himself is in his specialist field of interest & why his peers defer to that knowledge.

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