You Have Permission to NOT Be Normal

Lately I’ve been enjoying TV shows such as Spiral, Witnesses, and Dicte.

What do they have in common?

They’re all on Netflix. And they have subtitles. The first two shows are French and the third is Danish. And Witnesses in particular has some awesome scenery as it takes place in northern France.

I have plenty of access to English-speaking shows, and I do have my favorites – I’ve seen The Crown three times – but I’m particularly intrigued by dramas made in other countries. It’s as if I’m there and I get a general sense of the culture. And with the French shows I get a bit of a language refresher.

Some in my circle think that’s strange. Many people watch TV to wind down, and subtitles make the shows more labor intensive. But I’m okay with that, and I’m okay with the fact that they think it’s strange that I watch these shows.

There have been times in my life when I’ve struggled with being different in some way and being judged because of it, and wondered if I was better off choosing a more “normal” approach.

What’s normal anyway? When it comes to your job, your personality, your preferences, or your life as a whole, are you frequently trying to figure out what’s normal and what isn’t?

Because many people live with an internal struggle. Maybe you yearn to be different, special, an individual, and choose a different path. At the same time, you don’t want to stray too far off the path – you also want to fit in, be accepted…be normal.

But what does it mean to be normal? Even experts struggle with the word; medical textbooks use words such as “usual” and “not ill” and “conforming to a cultural norm.” However, what is usual to one group of people – tattooing, to give one example – may be completely weird and repulsive to another group. Does that make it normal or abnormal?

The real danger comes in labels – the ones we put on each other and the ones we call ourselves. People who don’t fit in are often labeled as abnormal or different, and that stigma can eat into their feelings of self-worth and belonging. Our culture, with its narrow definitions and media depictions of the “right” way to be, doesn’t help.

You harm yourself if you buy into those definitions. You hold yourself back when you agonize that something you feel, believe in, dream about or just wear on your body is not normal, or when you feel shame and hide things. Normal is a very big playing field and most of us fit somewhere on that field.

Still, we worry about being normal. Is it normal to sleep 12 hours instead of 8?

Is it normal for your 5-year-old son to dress in high heels and pink tutus?

Is it normal to grieve a loved one for years? Is it normal to be happy so much of the time? Are you at a normal weight?

Is it normal to want to be alone a lot?

Is it normal to spend hours on Pinterest?

Is it normal to be afraid of dogs?

Is it normal to be the only person crying in a movie theater when everyone else is laughing?

You limit yourself when you try to fit into a box labeled “normal.” It can be an awfully unimaginative, stifling, boring place to be. In trying to be normal or to fit in, you may shut down those parts of you that define who you really are.

So, take a deep breath, and know that you may be different, you may even be a little strange in some areas – but most likely, you are as “normal” as the rest of us.

Are you a square peg who is still trying to fit into a round hole? Do you feel like a misfit in some area of your life and want to feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin? Click here to find out how we can work together.

Felicia Baucom
felicia.conway@gmail.com
2 Comments
  • Autumn Ware
    Posted at 11:07h, 30 March Reply

    I can really relate to this. I was a “weird” kid in a small, conservative Southern town. I got teased a lot in middle school, and even my mom once told me (shortly after the Real World came on TV, “I hope you’re never on a show like that. You say such weird things. It would be humiliating.” That stuck with me for sooooo long. I tried for decades to pinch myself down into some acceptable form and avoid letting people know what was in my head. When I finally married one of my best friends, he encouraged me to “let my freak flag fly.” Since then, I’ve started a successful business, begun writing a novel series about globetrotting girls, so you might enjoy it ;), and moved onto a sailboat. I JUST told him yesterday that since I started letting myself be weird, my life has improved 500fold. Love this post! Thanks, Felicia.

    • Felicia Baucom
      Posted at 20:14h, 02 April Reply

      Wow, how awesome Autumn that you live on a sailboat. That’s definitely unusual and sounds like so much fun. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing!

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