In principle, this question should be very easy for me to answer, at least when I think of the philosophy I have always had on this subject.
Who is “normal”? There really isn’t such a thing, is there? But, if that’s the case, what meaning does this word have? It can’t be completely meaningless.
As always, it depends on the context, on the meaning, on what you actually want to express with it. So it’s actually not such a simple word and therefore probably used incorrectly far too often. So maybe it’s not such a bad idea to remove it from the vocabulary, because there is often a much better way to describe something. One could see this word as a kind of label. And like any label, it can quickly lead to misunderstandings if you are not familiar with it or if it has not been clarified in advance what exactly is meant by “normal”.
I have always been very interested in language itself and especially in individual words, and even at a young age I began to simply take them apart and think about where a word comes from, why it is exactly that word, and what it might mean, regardless of my knowledge or hunch, if I analyse it carefully and don’t just use it as a matter of course.
So, what does “normal” actually mean and in which situations and why is this word used? Like every label, one tries to summarise or categorise a larger group of things or people in order to be able to make a generally valid statement about it, provided that it has been clearly defined beforehand who or what one wants to summarise with it. But this one is even more general, in principle you could even say it is THE label. Or to put it another way, when I define something as normal, I mean a statistical average for a certain thing.
And there comes the rub, how can I define an average person or personality? Let’s play this out. What do you think will apply to most people? Most have body hair, can speak and walk. So that and many other universal characteristics would make up a normal, average person. Well then, at least I am a normal human being, provided we have defined “human beings” according to these criteria beforehand. At this point I assume that most people would agree with me about the definition of a human being.
It gets more complicated when it comes to personality, which is what it’s all about when I ask myself whether I am normal. I assume that most people talk about their personality when they think about whether someone is normal. But here you can already see that this wouldn’t be so clear at first if this contribution didn’t already have “identity” in the title.
And now it gets really exciting. Because how do you actually define personality? I am sure that there is at least one or probably many different definitions when it comes to approaching this topic scientifically, for example in psychology. But very few people will know these definitions so well. Although I am very interested in science, not even I know how personality is exactly defined. So what remains is a consciously or unconsciously personally derived definition.
And here we have already reached a point. If I define characteristics for myself by which I want to judge whether I have an average personality, then there is a high probability that I will not coincidentally take into account exactly all the characteristics that are suitable for a universally valid definition. And anyway, from a scientific point of view there is not one average personality, but rather several frequently occurring ones, among which there are probably one or more that are particularly common. And even that is only a rough classification.
Now let’s stop with the science digression. What I want to say is that “normal” is purely a matter of definition and depends on which characteristics I use to judge it. And thus everyone can be normal and abnormal at the same time. Evaluations of averages are something for science and should remain there, with people who know something about it and who are aware that it is only a useful tool for analysing a clearly defined area and that one can draw statistical conclusions from it, but cannot and should not judge a complex individual.
In the worst case, such categorisations only lead to limiting oneself through labels. “I’m normal, that’s why I can’t do this and that, because you have to have a talent for that.”
Maybe there is an “average consumer”, but then only because we have degraded ourselves to that status, and maybe that even makes up a large part of our society. But definitions and statistics change over time. What was normal yesterday is probably no longer normal today. And in this day and age, it seems impossible to have an overview of this.
So in the end it is up to you what you define as normal and whether you see yourself as normal or would rather be counted as one of the “crazy people” 😉 .
I, at least, like to be different, because that’s what makes personality.
Like something out of a picture book
But what makes me so different? Well, looking back, I would even say that I am, or at least was, relatively average. That’s what I thought most of the time. Subjectively, you only know your own life at first anyway, but even later, when I got to know other people’s lives, I was still of the opinion that, on the whole, I led a pretty normal life, almost picture-perfect, at least according to my idea of what it means to have a normal life.
At 14, my first girlfriend and first love since primary school. Together, the first kiss (at least for me) and even the first sexual experience. When I look at it that way, really a picture book relationship, because we were best friends at the same time and had so much incredible fun together, without losing sight of our other friendships. Then, after a year (half a century, it felt like), our relationship came to an end. But not in tears, because everything went on “quite normally” and we continued to be friends, if I hadn’t at some point had a real teenage asshole phase during which I hurt her a lot. Not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t know any better at the time. But that’s another topic that deserves far more attention than it gets here in a side sentence.
I had both an outsider phase and a phase in which I was more or less popular. I had really good friends, my room was a little youth centre, because one or more friends were there every day, at least to chill. I was often in love and had some really special love relationships that I will remember forever and about which I could write whole books. I messed up, made up, was sad, happy, angry and whatever else life has in store.
Of course, not everything was nice, quite the opposite in fact. Nevertheless, everything somehow balanced out, so that one could say: a very average life, just in my individual way, just as each one is very different.
This all describes my time of growing up, my teenage years. At that time I didn’t often think about whether I was different. Nevertheless, there were phases when I thought I was or wished I was “someone special”. At the same time, I was already aware that everyone is different and special in their own way. Nevertheless, some would probably say that in a certain way I was an oddity, just different.
And when I look back on the past with my current knowledge, I can think of a few things that might have made me a little different. Perhaps I have always belonged to a personality profile that does not correspond to the average. But I am not really in a position to judge that.
In the course of my life so far, however, more and more personality crystallised, which increasingly made me an individual. The more I dared to be myself, the less I fit into a normal, average pattern that can be so easily transferred to anyone else. And that’s exactly the point. At some point I made the decision not to want to be normal anymore, but to put my personality out there.
So what can I ultimately say? Just like every human being, I have always been an individual that develops and evolves as I grow up and get older. And so my otherness has only developed over time and through my own personality, so that as a teenager I was much more normal than I am today.
Your abnormal Leonie ♥