What is normal? Normal is a term that is used and felt quite regularly within our lives in our American society. It’s that hope that parent’s dream of when their child is born, “Oh God, I hope he is normal.” Normal is what we as teenager’s dream of being; living our life like everyone else, and being able to fit-in with our peers. For us, being normal tends to be pronounced as a basic fundamental need. However, does society really utilize this term normal for its intended purpose? Moreover, does the use of normal in the way that society currently uses the term, produce a consequence?
Webster’s dictionary defines normal as “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle.” From this formal definition, I would say the terms validity is fairly concrete; it isn’t too broad or too narrow or deviates from the point that the majority is of a certain way. To put this definition in another way, think of normal as a unit of measure; it’s a summary for human behavior, activities, feelings, etc. However, can we truly say that this is how the term normal is used within our society.
For us normal isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life. We demonstrate a need to be of the norm, but the norm isn’t a set rule of how you must live. Conversely though, if everyone wants to be normal or to feel normal, then what’s the issue with society using normal as it’s guideline for how one should live. For starters, I don’t believe that that is how normal was intended to be used. Webster’s definition didn’t involve any term that would suggest that normalcy is the way that we all should be living. If you read down the list of definitions of the term, it is said that normal is “…conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern,” it’s something that “occurs naturally.” (Merriam) Thinking about this definition alone and the interpretation of viewing normal as a certain way we should all be the definition and usage by the public would be valid. However, if one was to then look to the example for that specific definition that person would see the phrase “normal immunity”. (Merriam) Taking this example sentence and the definition of a lot of people do some specific thing, it has been made clear that the error lies within the public and the definition they have given to the term normal. The dictionary definitions for normal are valid and accurate; it is now society that needs to alter their viewing of how to use normal.
The real issue is that we think that the principal of normalcy is the only right way to experience life, when in actuality the definition for normal is simply a way of describing what a lot of people do. It’s like when you come to a soda machine; do I pick Coke or Sprite? Well let’s pretend that the majority of people like Coke, which would be what is defined as normal. However, I don’t like Coke and I want Sprite! I am not a part of the majority, but no one in our society would look down on me or ever pity me for not being a part of that particular norm. I feel that the correct meaning and definition of what normal is needs to be rectified and restated because society is not using it in its intended purpose. By using normal in this context we as a society are ostracizing the largest minority group within our world, the slightly challenged and somewhat different. If people stared at us and laughed at us and called us names for drinking Sprite wouldn’t that seem a bit dramatic and above all else frustrating; just because you wanted something that wasn’t considered normal.
Moreover, with this misuse of the term society has the potential to continue to negate the fact that there is no right way of living. There is no right way to live or a wrong way to live. Having this idea that there is only one right way can extinguish what makes us all unique and alienate those who don’t fall into the norm. As previously stated, normal as we tend to use it can be a very hurtful word and even more so can be a very hurtfully inflicted idea. Being from a special needs background the term normal is something I hear all the time from family, from clients, from peers, for the government, it’s everywhere. Having a brother with special needs I have often heard my grandparents speak so quietly about how sorry they are that he will never live a normal life, and other people look down on him for that. Not only do these comments hurt me, it hurts my brother and it hurts my parents. Life as a whole is hard enough on everyone, why do we need to feel sad over the fact that he won’t do everything the majority of society does? Why is normal thought to be the only way right way to live. My sibling eats, sleeps, feels, thinks, dreams, camps, hikes, and so much more; how does all of that living add up to get pity from the world.
Normal is a measurement of the majority. It surveys a certain aspect of human kind and looks at what most people exhibit. Normal in our society is used almost as slang that dictates that we all must be similar and apart of the majority. Clearly, this slang does not derive from the true principal of what normal was intended to mean. By evaluating what the majority is and projecting this to be the one and only way that we must live, we extensively hurt those who are born different, become different, or chose to be different. If being like the majority is what is desired then we will be not only hurting individuals who don’t deserve that treatment but we will also be hindering our creativity and curiosity. Those who have dared to go against the nom are the ones that have changed our world forever. Our idea of normal needs to go back to what it actually means and take away that stigma that different is bad. Different is nothing more than being unique, and that’s a characteristic I think we could all strive for.
“Merriam-Webster.” Normal. 2013. Referred to: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/normal