What does it really mean to be normal and why would anyone aspire to be normal?
According to Dictionary.com…
1. Conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
2. Serving to establish a standard.
Sounds pretty exciting to qualify as normal, doesn’t it?
Actually, if it does, you can just stop reading right here…
Normal equals average.
To be normal simply means that you are a fair representation of the common characteristics of your demographic.
It means you are right in the middle of a herd that is remarkably similar to most of what makes you such a unique individual.
Nothing extraordinary. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing very notable, since everything about you is pretty similar to the guy next to you.
Are any of us really content with the idea of being normal? How can we celebrate and boast of our conquests to all those insignificant commoners when our objective is to be just like them.
But it’s safer there.
Sure it is, buddy. When the hunters come charging in to pick off those stragglers that weren’t crammed in with the other livestock, you might feel vindicated. Like you made the wiser decision. Let someone else take the hit. I won’t draw attention to myself or step outside of the herd. Right?
Only a fool would ever dare to leave the safety of the herd. Nobody in their right mind steps out. It’s too dangerous or stupid to abandon a protective comfort zone with relative safety.
Right? Like these folks…
That guy at work who puts in the extra hours and really learns his job to advance his career? The one who tolerates the slackers and manipulators who never actually seem to accomplish anything and do just enough to not get fired. He can’t be like them because he wants more.
He isn’t inside the herd.
What about that single mom who spends her evenings learning new skills or studying to build a better future? She could be spending all that time on social media and watching movies. She could be spending her time and energy on stressing over the random problems that seem to simply materialize, but instead she is searching for solutions.
She has left the herd.
Then there’s that family that started off too young, or too broke, or too confused. They could just give up on life and take whatever comes their way. They could wallow in their excuses.
They could spend time together, planning their future and finding ways to make it happen. They could learn to understand each other and all the other stuff that isn’t going their way. They could work together and create a life worth celebrating, or they could just do what the pack says is normal.
If normal is cool with them, they could buy the house or car that make the herd jealous. They could take the job or career path that pleases the herd. They could eat what the herd eat and move when it moves.
They could be that family that figures out what matters most to them and makes a plan. They can search for solutions and make the impossible happen.
That family could be the one that pulls themselves up from despair and finds a way to break out of poverty, or divorce, or abuse, or even the mindless boredom of a routine that is draining away the precious hours of their life…
The herd never has a chance with folks who are awake and searching for solutions.
But the reality is that for every one who works hard and refuses to give up on anything that they believe is important, there’s substantially more who just drift along without making any type of fuss. They just take whatever is handed to them and do whatever is expected of them.
The benefits of the herd far outweigh the burden as far as they are concerned. They have traded an uncertain and adventurous future for a somewhat predictable and stable present.
That’s why it’s so easy to upset the apple cart with the normal people. They simply can’t find an appropriate response to anything that ventures beyond their personal comfort zone or understanding.
Anything can spook the herd.
Once the herd realizes that you aren’t attempting to squeeze into their ranks, you are ostracized. You will never be reabsorbed into their critical, judgmental, insecure, and delusional masses. You have been tagged as different. You make them nervous because your decision forces them to question theirs.
Celebrities, the rich and famous, political figures… anyone who stands out as completely different from their concept of normal is regarded as alien. Some worshiped, some despised, all non-normal.
It’s about perspective.
We all have our personal concepts of normal and exceptional.
The folks who don’t have a safe place to sleep, would see a $49 hotel room very differently from someone who is used to five-star resorts.
The guy who hasn’t eaten for days, would see a 99 cent cheeseburger very differently from a guy eating in a Manhattan rooftop cafe.
The guy who has seen Venice might not be blown away with your neighborhood. Your story of the terrifying high dive may not rouse excitement from the guy who has his own parachute.
Expanding your world changes your concept of normal, as well as what you see as exceptional.
If you are perfectly content with your life, that is awesome. Not many folks can truly say that and mean it. I applaud you.
However, if there’s something that you dream of accomplishing or becoming, you will first have to get past the desire to ever be normal again.
You might need to find a new reference point.
Who do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish? Who would be a role model for your ambitions?
It might be time for a mentor, before charging off and rearranging your life. Especially considering you might still be working with the same understanding that got you to where you are now.
Something foundational needs to change. Something in your daily routine must bow and submit to the cravings within your soul. The very fact that you are still reading says that something needs to change.
Maybe the fear of becoming an individual is terrifying. Having an opinion that was formed within your own mind is rarely received with as much applause as parroting what is already popular with the herd.
Taking a stand for something that matters to you will shift your position in the popularity rankings. So what. Is your life about finding what matters to the herd, or discovering what matters to you?
Shake off the stupid and move forward.
Take an honest look at whatever herd you are buried in and decide if it’s really where you want to be. Maybe they are a perfect fit and it’s a good thing to be on their level of normal. That’s awesome.
However, if your herd tends toward negativity, constantly reminds you of your limitations and failures, and generally insists that you be exactly like them with complete disregard for what is really important to you…
Maybe its time to take your chances on your own, until you find something better.
Finding others who share your passions, work together to make good things happen, and challenge you to pursue things that are actually worth pursuing is an incredible concept.
That group that pushes you to do what you love, and find who you are… it’s out there. That group may take you away from the safety of your herd. In fact they might be the very thing the herd is so afraid of. Not just another herd… but maybe something else entirely.
Maybe the group you desire is actually a perceived threat to the old herd. Maybe that group even exists primarily to spook and scatter herds.
That small group that you hear howling in your dreams, calling you to join them, protecting their own and fighting for survival sounds more like a pack.
But that’s another story altogether.
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.