What is “Normal?”

Hey all! Let’s get into it.

Recently, I’ve been wondering what the idea of being “normal” entails. (I’m quite the contemplative person.) Isn’t it different for every person?

Is the concept of normality not a subjective thing? After all, our individual “norm” is based off of and influenced by our experiences and circumstances. If you live in a house where praying at dinner is customary, you may find it abnormal to stay at a friend’s house where instead of praying they just begin to eat dinner. The friend’s practice may be unusual to you and unprecedented if you haven’t been exposed to different traditions before. You may label their practice as “weird” or “odd.” Why? Because it’s not youidea of normal.

But what if that friend came to your house? Chances are they would think that you and your family’s custom is weird too. It’s not that it is, it’s that they are not used to acting that way.

Generally there is a boundary between acceptably weird and just plain weird (like strange, or creepy.) The plain weird usually conflicts with the universally shared morals. But I think that the acceptably weird is our subconscious recognizing a difference in behavior, and therefore labeling it as unordinary. Most humans are natural labelers, and I think that these labels help us to organize reality. Most humans also don’t like differences, which is evident throughout history. This is why these differences, or things that are not normal, generally receive a label with a negative connotation – such as weird.

Though universal morals of right and wrong are collectively shared, more specific things are not shared – religion, beliefs, behaviors, jobs, hobbies… The idea of normal is different everywhere you go. This is because each place has it’s own people with their own experiences, and these people find each other and surround themselves with each other. The mesh of beliefs, behaviors, and really just each person’s individuality creates the idea of “normal” for those particular people. Once the people stray outside the known and accepted, the rest of the world’s normal is foreign and incomprehensible. We don’t like what we don’t understand, so we label it as something that is wrong and unacceptable.

Normality is fluid and personal, and it is not to be defined by any one person. It is the set of commonalities we perceive as both acceptable and tolerable, and founded on the recognition of what we know, and the rejection of what we don’t.

Hopefully that makes sense. ❤

Steinfield