“If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.” -Brene Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Suppose to Be and Embrace Who You Are
So in my previous post, I stated that “each person has their own normal.” This is a good argument; however, I also believe that feeling normal depends on my own personal definition of normal in the first place. One of the definitions from dictionary.com states that “normal” is:
serving to establish a standard.
The key word here is “standard.” What are my standards for normality?
That’s actually a great question. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at a cafe in downtown Chicago watching people go by. I wonder if I stopped each of these people, and asked them, how do you define normal? how would they respond…I wonder how many different “normals” I would find.
The truth is that our culture dictates certain basic standards for normality. To the extreme, we may look at a person walking down the street talking to himself as “not normal.” But the reality is that without hearing that person’s story, how can we really make that assumption? That person could be someone struggling with schizophrenia. The fact that the person is calmly talking to themselves instead of violently yelling at themselves could be their “normal.”
In a less extreme case, what about the person who deeply grieves because of the loss of their companion animal? People’s perceptions about pet loss have changed; however, there was a time when a person going through complicated grief over the loss of a pet was viewed as “not normal.”
I think the standards we set for ourselves are a sum of our experiences, how we were raised, our own culture and society, and a lot of popular culture and media. There is nothing wrong with this in a sense because who we are is born out of a lot of that stuff. But the challenge comes when we don’t always buy into all that stuff. When we stand out or go against the grain, or don’t conform to what’s “normal,” and we begin to let it define our lives as odd, strange, or weird. Well, I guess some people thrive on those labels, so I will say that it becomes a problem when we have to defend who we are. It’s a problem when we feel like we don’t have any place we belong.
Where should I look to find my normal? I should probably look within myself. But this first requires an understanding that who I am is okay and that I Belong, simply because I am Here. When you don’t have this understanding, it makes it easier to get sucked up into the untruth that our normal is wrapped up in everything external. And this is not normal at all.
Are your standards for being normal reachable/achievable?