Being Normal

I used to believe I was left out from everything everyone else did. I also used to believe that I was abnormal. My feeling of being left out may have come from the root feeling that I am abnormal. In later years, as I read more and more about abnormal psychology I realised that if I was abnormal, every other person is too. Yet, the social aspects of fitting in and feeling comfortable in the presence of others would still be beyond me. For the longest time though, I was certain that I was much superior to the fellow-beings whose attention I sought so vehemently. This again, I realised in recent years, was not to be so. And, then started my journey to being normal.

 

Being normal is a very broad subject. The limits of normalcy are not quite defined. My attitude towards normalcy throughout my life was that it was boring. But, in defying the rules of normalcy, I had already permanently eradicated some of the social elements from my behaviour. For example, you would hear of a colleague who has recently had a baby and you wouldn’t know what to wish him. Gradually, you make a mental note of all the different kinds of greetings and wishes for different occasions, so that you can juggle them whenever you need to. Yet, sometimes it is a death that happens in your family or in the family of a friend. As much as you feel you must say “everyone will eventually die”, you know that it would not be politically correct to say so. You watch people perform the usual grimness on face thing at funerals and you wonder whether they really feel that way. You often feel sorry for the loss but not with the same grim expression that the others would be wearing. Someone recently told you that if that is how you feel, you can at least tell the bereaved that you feel sorry for his/her loss. But it is not the same when you translate it to the local language. Then again, you hesitate. So, you do not know how to be normal at a funeral, no matter what.

Being normal is to be unnoticeable. You do not show off your strengths. You do not show off your weaknesses. You just be the wall in the background, which nobody pays attention to. You just wish people will stop checking out your odd kind of clothing or the disheveled hair. Try as hard as you would, someone would eventually notice that you are abnormal just by noticing the way you are trying to be normal. Then, you would either be laughed at or be approached with the expectation of an amusing conversation at the least.

Or at a certain party, you hear the name of a movie you recently watched. To be a part of the conversation, you jump in. The leader of the group immediately asks you, “Have you watched this new movie, XYZ?” Yes, absolutely. And you were dying to hear that question. You finally have a few people with whom you can talk about something you enjoyed. The answer comes with excitement, “Yes! YESSS! What a brilliant movie! Do they make films like that any more?” To your dismay, you find that half the group has disappeared just out of the disgusting revelation you just made. Much later, you realise that you have only proved them right in thinking you are abnormal. You just voted 10.0 for a movie that IMDB rated at 6.0. What a dud!

Recently, I expressed this concern of mine – of my longing to be part of the normal – to a friend who at least listened for a short span of time. After patiently hearing me out, he asked “Why do you want to be normal? Obviously, you seemed to be gifted with an opinion of your own. If you feel left out and abnormal because of that, you should feel proud of yourself.” Easier said than done, my friend! We live in a world where we seek approval from the others around us. You might not have the slightest care for money or status or anything material. Yet, you can’t beat that inner craving to be counted as part of the community or the society. Despite your having a very vivid, nonconformist point of view to everything, despite your resentment towards most opinions held by those around you, you still seek to be a part of them. You sometimes wish they would accept your arguments and trust your sense of judgment.

Being normal is a human need. But everyone is, eventually one way or the other, abnormal. You are sometimes told that you act like a kid, or you act too bossy. You are at other times told you are loud, or you are “full of sh**”. Like me, you will also find it difficult to handle such feedback. But, one day, you will realise that just as you are loud, another person is childish. Or just as you are bossy, another person could be “full of sh**”. What matters is that you acknowledge a person’s abnormality as a normal thing. Abnormal is the new normal. Let us not be shy of it. Being normal is being yourself. Everything else is just pretense.

In writing this piece, I have at certain points stood in other people’s shoes. The entire scenario may not be from my life’s experiences. It is rather produced from a mix of experiences I have heard other people talk about. However, the cream of this article is based on a conversation I had with a friend about three years ago. Hope you have found this one normal enough to read. Do write to me, with any comments you might have. Good Day! Good Night!

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