Normal people never eat an entire pack of cookies, feel depressed about the state of their lives, or stay in their pajamas ’til past noon. Do they?
When we make a mistake or do something we wish we hadn’t, it’s easy to castigate ourselves with the words, Why can’t I be like normal people? But who are these normal people we all aspire to be like? And why do we feel that we don’t fit into the boundaries of normality?
Normal people look after their bodies
Normal people never eat junk food and they love vegetables. They are also disciplined about the way they take care of their bodies. So when we eat that pack of cookies we bemoan our lack of willpower and wonder why we can’t be normal. Normal people are also, of course, beautiful. They never get spots or wrinkles, their eyebrows are a perfect arc and their hair shines with the lustre of stars. But of course, normal people don’t obsess about their looks, they are happy to go without make-up or a shave. Normal people just throw something on because they are not bothered by such shallow factors as looks – yet somehow they still manage to look amazing.
We can find just about any reason to criticise ourselves for the way we behave towards our bodies. For some reason, whatever we do, we never feel it is quite right.
Normal people achieve their goals
Normal people have a clear career path. They are always moving forwards to achieve their goals. They never take a vacation or a sick day. Alternatively, they are on a beach somewhere working a few hours a week from their laptops and raking in the money between surfing and yoga sessions. So when we find ourselves stuck in a job we hate or failing to achieve our dream, we blame ourselves. Why can’t we be as ambitious and successful as them?
In a world where high achievers are on the cover of every magazine, it’s easy to think that we are failures. I’m not sure who set these expectations, but I do know that they cause most of us feel like we are flawed human beings who are just not as good as normal people.
Normal people are never angry, disappointed or depressed.
Even our basic emotions have been called into question, recently. If we feel angry, we are not mindful enough, spiritual enough or aware enough. No wonder we are not manifesting our dreams if we are feeling depressed. Our failures are all our own fault because we are just not as damned positive as normal people. Never mind that you have lost your job, a loved one or a cherished relationship, or that your house has flooded, you’ve just given birth or you have the flu. Feeling anything but positive is just not good enough. A normal person would not let petty office dramas or the economic crisis get them down. They would rise above it and get cheerily on with their day.
I’m not sure when negative emotions got labelled as abnormal, but I am pretty sure that anger and disappointment are felt by everybody and probably provide a useful function no matter what the positive psychologists say.
Normal people have great relationships
Normal people have an adoring partner who is always showering them with love and gifts. They don’t argue about petty things – they are far too mature for that. Normal people are ready for a passionate night with their lover at a moment’s notice. They also have perfectly behaved children and loving parents. Normal people are great at relationships. They never forget a birthday, always organise surprises and treats and never lose their temper over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher. They don’t sulk, take things personally or yell at their children, ever! It is little wonder they are adored by all. Yet surprisingly, normal people are never taken for granted by others.
Having such high expectations of ourselves is unrealistic. No relationship is perfect and no one gets through life without a bit of conflict now and then.
Normal people live in immaculate homes
Normal people live in tidy and beautiful homes. They have exquisite taste and never make shopping mistakes. They artfully arrange period finds with stylish modern accessories. A photographer for a homes magazine could turn up at any time day or night and never find a dirty dish or toothpaste smears in the basin. Somehow, normal people manage to keep their home immaculate without employing a cleaner, despite the fact they also hold down a full-time job while homeschooling four children.
I think this idea might have a religious origin – cleanliness is next to Godliness and all that! We have been shamed into tidiness for centuries, though I still have no idea why it is quite so important.
In fact, there is no such thing as normal
Our idea of a normal person is just an outline we use to shame ourselves. This perfect creature does not exist, never has, never will. We all make mistakes, feel negative emotions and do things we regret.
There is no perfect human being and nor should there be. What else would there be to learn? What would be the point of our lives if there were nothing left to achieve?
Even if we manage to be normal, it won’t last because the goal posts are always moving. There would be a new normal that we didn’t match up to just around the corner. Just as our parents would wonder at some of the things we think of as normal now.
The only way to be normal is by extending the boundaries of normality to include everyone, even you.
Art by Tommy Ingberg
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