Saturday, December 19, 2009

Normal? Don't Waste Time With That Fallacy

The other day I pulled out the good hot chocolate.  Stuff that requires milk instead of water, may cost more than drinking shaved gold, and must be how heaven tastes.  I keep it hidden from my children so it doesn't get wasted on their less cultured palates (it might kill me to see it congeled and forgotten on the cupboard like I regularly find the other hot chocolate).  So when my oldest son asked to have a cup, it was a big deal to allow him 4 tablespoons from my hoard.  And when I saw the teapot heating up as my oldest daughter pulled out a packet of Swiss Miss, I felt rather gracious informing her of my temporary generosity.
"That's okay, Mom, I like this kind just as well,"  was followed with a reflective "I know that's not normal, but I don't mind not being normal all the time."  Those are words of comfort to the mother of a near teenager.  I have noticed lately that many people, even at my age, are still battling the idea of Normal.

Normal.  There are three lifestyles I've noticed that are based around it. 

  1. There are those who spend their whole lives on a quest to achieve Normal with all goals centered around reaching that blessed state.  Differences sprout embarrassment or self castigation and are often hidden in shame.  If only I {whatever} like everyone else, then I would be happy, productive, liked.  If Normal is crafty, so must I be (even if I hate crafts, I just pretend).
  2. Then there are those so frightened of Normal they spend their lives running or hiding from it.  They think if match up to Normal too often, they will cease to exist as an individual.  They spend their whole life making sure they don't like Normal.  If Normal is crafty, I'm not interested in crafty.  I won't even try.   (I must admit that there was a time when this described me and I didn't do things merely because it was Normal or popular with women my age.  It wasn't until I overcame my fear of Normal that I found I liked scrapbooking and baking bread)
  3. With similar fear, but stronger reactions, are the fighters.  Somehow they see normal as an evil that must be eradicated, with shame and superiority as favorite weapons.   Normal is wrong and they seem bent on proving it.  Normal is mundane, small minded, ignorant, and low class.  They are different and that somehow makes them better than Normal. If crafty is Normal then those who like it should be ridiculed, I have too refined taste for such things.

What none of these people seem to understand is that Normal is really quite imaginary.  There are certainly norms and things many people have in common, but nobody typifies everything.  The longer I live the more I see how little anyone has in common with Normal.  Actually, a lot of conceptions on Normal depend on where you live.  I may be Normal with my 6 kids in Utah but I am odd here.  And it doesn't matter to me if I live where it is Normal or not, I enjoy my large family.  If you still think that everyone else is Normal and you're the odd one out, you need to look a little harder.  Besides, if you spend your time seeking, fighting, or hiding from Normal your going to miss how fun it is to be you! 

Don't be scared of not being Normal.  Hate chocolate?  Embrace that fact.  Prefer odd hair colors?  Why not!  But don't be scared of Normal either.  Like to scrapbook?  Read Twilight?  Prefer McDonalds?  Don't let a fear of Normal get in the way of liking what you like.  And if you find a knee jerk reaction to Normal is to argue or feel superior?  You need to reevaluate.  There are norms that should be argued, but there are norms that have good reasons, too.

So I say be who you are and throw Normal out the door.  It is when you stop worrying about Normal that you see how illusive a concept it is.  I hope my daughter keeps wanting to be herself.  I hope she continues to not mind Abnormalities and that she doesn't shun something merely because it's Normal.  I hope she knows that the only thing completely Normal is the lack of Normal.  I hope she can embrace that fact wholeheartedly.  (And I hope she continues to prefer the cheap hot chocolate so I can enjoy my expensive stuff in peace).


  1. So true! The longer we live, I think this is much easier to see. When I was a near teen I thought I was the only weird one. Then you realize everyone is weird in their own way. :)

    Unfortunately, my kids prefer the good hot chocolate. They drink the Stephen's like nothing else. This is why we go to BJ's to get our milk. It's way cheap there.

  2. Thanks for sharing - you give me hope that I might still have it in me to survive teenagers when we finally get there.

    The good hot chocolate? Where can I get that?

  3. Thanks for this post, I really needed to hear it, especially at this time of year as I run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make this a 'normal' Christmas! We need to just 'be'. It will all work out.
    Kudos to E, especially as a young teen and not caring about being 'normal'. :) She's a smarty.
    Loved your previous post w/the handmade Christmas ornaments. And is that tree topper what I think it is? Cool!

  4. Way to go Charlotte. Right on the mark.

  5. Elise is right, she is not normal. :-)

  6. Barlow has a knack for pointing out everything about me that's not "normal." Ah, what would I do without him?

  7. I really have nothing better to say than "here, here." Who needs normal anyway? Comparing myself to other people is way too time consuming and exhausting. Normal is good. So is abnormal.

  8. Alyson- please tell me you have a local place that sells Stephens (I looked into shipping it to me and it was really expensive S&H).

    Claudia- Stephens is my favorite, I bought Ghirardelli and it was also yummy. I'm hoping my 12-year-old keeps giving everyone hope as she becomes a teenager.

    Jamie- Exactly. Just be.

    Tucker Mom- Thanks mom! Our family definitely has no problem with normalcy.

  9. Kim- Being my child, she never really had a chance, did she?

    Andrea- How would Barlow know what normal is? He is, after all, my brother!

    Emma Jo- It's nice to have friends who don't care about abnormal (or normal, either).

  10. Charlotte, your post was right on. I want to tweet it! Loved your points. I've been #1 and #2 and halfway between for years. You help put it all in perspective. Thanks!

  11. I gave up on normal years ago. I like being abnormal. I guess that is pretty obvious though. LOL

  12. I hate dog slobber, yet own a boxer.

    I never wanted to have kids growing up and now I have 4. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

    I'm an artist married to someone who is blind.

    I hate milk. In fact, I refuse to drink any body fluids.

    Normal is subjective...

  13. Normal is a fallacy. The only thing that will bring us any kind of peace (like you said) is being and loving our genuine self.

  14. Gabby- I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've found myself stuck between those two numbers, too.

    Steph- That is why I like you so much!

    ucmama- You are a grand example of just being yourself. It is wonderful! (Except the no milk part, do you at least eat ice cream?)

    Steph at Diapers and Divinity- The older I get the easier I find it to see people who are genuinely themselves and those that are still think pretending is important. It is not always easy to learn that lesson.

  15. nope. Although a couple times a year, I need a scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream in a big cake cone.

    shhhh! don't tell the Normal Police...

  16. Life without ice cream seems rather bleak to me. I'm calling the Normal Police for sure!! Either that or eat twice as much to balance out the universe!