Two nights ago I ended my most recent blog entry with a paragraph asking a simple question that yields a great deal of complexity when you really peel away at the layers. Today I want to dive a bit deeper into the concept of “normal”. What is normal? What do we consider to be normal? Normal as defined by the dictionary is “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural”. It also means serving to establish a standard. If normal is what ever society decides it should be then by society’s norms I’m the furthest thing from normal but then so are a lot of people.
I grew up with a lot of doctors telling my mother that I would never be normal or okay. The bar was set pretty low for me before I even had a chance to reach it. I wasn’t like other kids and yet I never really noticed how different I was, I never really knew I had flaws until the world started pointing out. I always thought I was normal, that there was nothing wrong with me but when the entire world picked at me and though it was funny to always beat on me in a school yard or throw things at me in class or mock my pace of speech every time I talked in class or call me retard I began to think there was something very wrong.
I always fell into depressions because society’s norms made me to believe that I had no place and that I didn’t belong. I was a goldfish swimming with sharks, a bluejay flying with eagles, a gazelle running with lions. In a world with unrealistic standards I was the fat kid in gym class attempting to climb that rope. I was instantly at a disadvantage and had to fight a lot harder than my peers. I was a turtle in rabbit race and though slow and steady wins the race I would be mocked several times before I did. I felt flawed because people made me feel that way, society took my own perception of normal and put a bullet in its head.
Parents have high expectations for their children before they’re even out of the womb. They expect their own unrealistic definition of greatness so when their child is diagnosed with an ASD their world shatters. To them their child died that day. They fear that their child will never be normal even Thoth their child will never feel different until convinced other wise by society. Though there are behaviors that can be corrected we can only set the bar so high, that doesn’t mean we have to set it really low either. We just have to learn to be as realistic as we can within the context of the situation. It’s okay to push people to their potential so that one day they may push themselves but we can’t push people too hard. At the end of the day we have to be happy simply with what’s in front of us. Your child may never be society’s twisted perception of normal but they’ll be something even greater, they’ll be unique in their own special way and no one should ever take that away from them.
I found a quote from Einstein that sims this up perfectly. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The sooner we as a society stop forcing our perception of normal on each other the happier we’ll be. Normal shouldn’t be approached as a generalization, it should simply be what you make of it. Normal for you may bear a stark contrast from what normal is to someone else and that’s okay, it’s the happy equilibrium that makes the world go round. It is never our place to force our idea of normal down someone’s throat, this is why we have wars in this world, why people fight or hate each other for terrible reasons. It’s not our differences that drive us apart or force us to single people out, it’s the fact that we slam each other’s views, opinions and lifestyles with our perception of normal as a justification. As I close this blog post I shall end this just how I began, What is normal? I implore of ALL OF YOU to take some time out of your day to ponder on this question and discuss it with those you know. I guarantee you your answers will always be different. No one answer will ever be the same and that’s the beauty of nature. Nothing is ever the same nor should be.