Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | April 4, 2012

Why be normal?

I found this picture on Facebook recently. I shared it, and noticed that it got shared some more. It is a very popular sentiment apparently. I think that is cool! Being slightly strange is far more interesting than being normal.

One thing I like about living in this part of the country, is the fact that there are more “characters” per square inch up here. People have had to be independent and have had to work hard in order to succeed. They’ve had to support each other, and to some degree, rely on their neighbours at times. This can be a harsh environment, and it is not for wimps. Facing sub-Arctic temperatures in the winter, with short days, can be challenging. It moulds our personalities and arguably makes us slightly strange. We become excited when the temperature raises to -20 celsius. We wear bare feet and sandals at about 5 celsius. Yes, we can be a strange lot up here. Sorel boots are a fashion statement, and polar fleece and down are revered. We can probably top anyone’s “it’s cold here” statement with “You think that’s cold? Well, let me tell you about cold!”

Too many people seem to want to be “normal” or to fit in with the crowd. The advertising industry spends a lot of time telling us what we want to buy or wear. We are supposed to act a certain way in order to be considered “normal”. So what is this “normal” anyway? I have heard it said that normal is just a setting on the dryer. That works for me. Trying to be normal is tiring, and doesn’t allow us to just be ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be such a misfit, that  I don’t fit in anywhere, or that I am miserable. At the same time, I do not want to be so preoccupied with figuring out how to be normal, and figuring out what that is, that I can’t live my life.

One thing I have learned as a social worker all these years, is that there is a wide definition of “normal”. I’ve also learned that it really is a useless term. It is far better to think of functional, though that can be debatable at times too. Who is the judge of functional? Or normal for that matter.

So, what would happen if we all just started being ourselves? Would we recognize our talents, and use them better? I would like to suggest that if we start learning to recognize our gifts and talents, and using them, we will be creating a better world. Maybe that is idealistic and naive. Imagine that, I can be idealistic and naive after all these years.

I propose that we ditch any notion of being normal. Be yourself. Be the best you that you can be. Recognize and celebrate your talents. Celebrate the talents of others. Enjoy your quirks, and see you if you turn them into talents as well. Have fun. When you build on your strengths and even your quirks, the negative traits will no longer have room to hang around. They will have to leave the scene, or at least become quieter.

The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well ~ Alfred Adler


  1. From my personal experience (though limited) with social workers, you are way too tolerant..are you sure you aren’t pretending to be not even remotely strange? :op

    • LOL…….oh, I am strange alright! 😀 and proud of it too! I will have to write about something that will show that I am not always as tolerant as I appear. 🙂

  2. nice blog post! “normal is just a setting on the dryer”- love that.

    • Thanks! That quote came from somewhere else. I didn’t think of it. I kind of wish I had! 🙂

  3. When I was about 15, my sister and I hadn’t seen each other in several years, and so I felt she didn’t really know me anymore. When you move away from everyone you know, all of those people who were once a part of your life become frozen in your memory. They stop changing and evolving along with you, and it creates such a distance. You begin to see distance as not a length between two points, but as an emotional chasm. It was sad for me.
    My sister never failed to send me books for my birthday through the mail, and that year when I opened up the parcel, one of the books was Robert Heinlien’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” and I remember discovering that the best part of a gift isn’t in it’s material form, but in it’s ability to demonstrate that the giver “knows” you. It was as if she had said, “hey, kid this thing you are experienceing is completely normal.” It was a great relief. It was a great title, and the perfect choice of a book for me. I had moved alot with my parents, and was constantly the literal stranger in a strange land.I was constantly adapting to a new normal, and over time I discovered that the parts of myself that showed up everywhere I went, were the parts of me that were truly me and the parts of me that I invented to suit my current surroundings were a part of my social construct. [i wouldn’t have phrased it that way then, but that was the gist of it] Normal adapts to strangenss, and visa versa. Every single time I moved to a new place, I felt strange and abnormal, until eventually someone from among the “locals” would take me under their wing and initiate me into the new normal.

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