The process of normalization
When I was in the early years of grade school I was full of life and excitement at all the things and people around me. The experiences I encountered were still quite new and interesting and life was a grand imaginative adventure. I loved getting attention, making others laugh and standing out among my classmates. I have a distinct memory of the first day of my grade 2 class where after the teacher introduced herself I put up my hand and enthusiastically spurted “Guess what Mrs. Trafford!? My names Devin and last year I was the funniest kid in the whole class!!” Being normal was the last thing on my mind and there was never a dull moment.
However, through the next years and into high school something changed. I began feeling social pressures. I developed a need to fit in and be accepted by my peers. I began worrying about what was socially acceptable and ensured I conformed to it to avoid being the odd one out. Begin normal became a necessity, and acting in unique ways seemed a certain path to social rejection by others. Anyone who stood out, behaved differently or had thoughts that didn’t closely match that of the other kids would get made fun of or bullied. I think during this time my zest for life diminished, the feeling of adventure faded and that which made me unique and interesting was suppressed.
I think some people never recover from these years of striving to fit in and conform. I think some people never regain that which they lost by suppressing their true selves to be accepted by others, and I think some people even think those years were good for them and that learning to be normal was a blessing. I think THAT is a tragedy.
Why it sucks to be normal
Plain and simple, normal people are forgotten. And why shouldn’t they be? There are billions of other normal people around, who could remember all of them? When you’re normal you fit in and are easily accepted by others, but because of your normalness you are just another ant passing by. Being normal isn’t impactful. When two normal people meet, there is not a whole lot they can learn from each other’s personalities.
Being normal is boring. When you hang out with a predictable person you always know what to expect, there’s no feeling of adventure or spontaneity. You limit your experiences to normal things and the wonder of the world seems to fade.
Why it’s awesome to be different
People who stand out are remembered. Those who inspire us, shock us, appall us, excite us, intrigue us, whether it’s in a good or bad way, will make a strong impact on our lives. Meeting someone who brings something new to the table… someone who presents a unique or weird perspective can open your mind and change the course of your life forever. We can become so accustomed to seeing and experiencing the same thing every day, so when something different happens (or we meet someone different) we tend to appreciate it because it’s refreshing.
While I like it more when I’m called unique or interesting, I still take being called weird as a compliment. I love being weird. I don’t try to be weird, I just try to embrace that which makes me unique. I talk about personal development to strangers, I love giving people the peace sign, I’ll give myself a high five if I do something awesome and I embrace the fact that I like ice cream way too much… (but only if its chocolate or vanilla.) I like to get really overly excited about things, say the word awesome way too much, make stupid skits with my friends, listen to video game music, and move to different counties!
What will other people think?
When you stop trying to fit in you may run into a lot of people who don’t share the same mindsets as you, and there will be some ‘normal’ people who judge you because of your uniqueness. It’s possible you might not be able to relate to as many people, but the friendships you do build with the people who appreciate you for what makes you unique will be stronger than any friendship where the participants aren’t embracing their true selves. You’ll also have much more interesting experiences and adventures with these friends. When a lot of people who aren’t worried about being normal get together… well things are never boring!
Embrace that which isn’t normal about you, and strive to live an impactful life. Ensure that when you leave this world you aren’t just another normal statistic forgotten by time, inspire others with your uniqueness and enjoy the freedom of an un-normal life.
I welcome you to share with us in the comments what’s un-normal about you!