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I have often heard the argument that there is no such thing as normal. Everyone is a little different, but some seem to stand out that bit more. When we take a look at the people around us, we can see the judgement in action. Snide remarks and people distancing themselves. We could talk about being normal in a wide range of respects describing our mannerisms along with obsessions, compulsions, and aversions. Normal in appearance. Normal in habits. Normal in manner. Normal in everyday functions. Normal experience of pain vs weird pleasure. Normal in the way we are treated. Normal in the way we are accepted. Normal in our comprehension, things that we miss or just pass us by. What the masses see and the many don’t, which can be viewed as missing out or counted as lucky not to know. Normal routine where any upset can cause distress. What we can do normally but sometimes can’t manage. Thoughts and feelings can be normal to us but alien to others. Feeling normal can count in an objective of fitting in, but there are instances where it is coupled with that wish of being a bit different.

Measuring and categorising normality is fraught with contention. Generalising can get us into trouble. It could be something as simple as whether someone owns a common item or not to something about us that can be at such a level that it tips the balance. The oddity is enough for many to describe it as abnormal. People may support and comfort us with the notion that no one is normal and that nothing is normal. However, it can be a proper problem. It might be a difference that we like or hate, so we can either attempt to change where possible or embrace it. Then there are those that think they are normal but are surprised to find out that their reality is not shared by everyone. When they discuss the way they see things and describe it to people they realise that it is not as common as they assumed.

You could draw up an endless list of things that make a person different. Our characteristics, things derived from our individual genome and things that happened or not during our development. From abuse or neglect to living with overbearing parents, countless circumstances can cast a shadow on the way we behave and react. You may consider yourself (rightly or wrongly) to be normal in some respects and less so in others.

Whether we wish to be completely normal or not, whatever that may be, there is still something to be said for being unusual and interesting. Up to a point. People have major issues that grow and expand making ordinary tasks harder by the day. When we have difficulties doing these everyday things, things that plenty of others manage with ease, it can come as a relief when an official diagnosis is found. Once a label has been put on it, we can blame our genes, it is something we are born with. Our faults lie with our parents or an outside agent. Our identity can become framed by the label put on us, we don’t object to it, instead see it as something that gives us that little bit extra. We can be proud of it regardless of whether it is seen as a form of disability or not. Aside from it being a talking point it can be called upon as an excuse for goofy behaviour and draws wanted scrutiny of our character. Those with a ‘uniqueness’ may even feel more cherished. You get this niggling sense that having a label is a benefit and it becomes a part of someone’s identity. This can be despite the drawbacks that can undoubtedly be very inhibiting.

To be viewed as attention seeking is not desirable. In a large number of cases people didn’t set out at the beginning to get attention, nor is the continuance of a disorder always used to keep being noticed. Although there is no doubt that the problems are very real, we discover that people take an interest in what is wrong with us. One may unwittingly use our conditions to set us apart. It is quite natural to want more attention when things aren’t going as we like. It is tempting to play on things.

When the opportunity arises to say something, we select something on our mind that may or may not be of interest to others. People come out with stuff that can be piffle, trifle or concerns things that most might not usually take heed of. However, as it is something they have chosen to talk about, we can fulfil their wish to get what they have to say off their chest. Nevertheless, when it is too often about normalcy problems it might not be helpful to keep talking about it all the time, thus giving them attention solely because of the issue. This becomes more significant if these discussions are at the expense of talk about other things that have merit in their own right. No matter how big the handicap, impediment or whatever the abnormality thing is, an individual will have real achievements and good qualities to refer to. There are also countless discussions available about things going on in the world, not just related to them and what they are facing all the while. One can ramp up the engagement when talking about things that are not about their disorder, issues and symptoms of their problems and listen more and feeding back positively, even if it is a bit exaggerated.

Some with life issues may hide away and not use it get any limelight at all. They don’t seem to fit in as well as others yet may show themselves in areas that we don’t all get to see. We have expectations and are prone to have a want-to-sort-it mentality, which might not be welcome or even necessary. Living by your own standards and leading by example is not the same as wishing others to blossom with the same vibrancy in the same situations. Being normal, being conformist is an untidy concept with such a mishmash of contrasting characters around. We can live as a recluse, but good company is good company either via inclusion at the fringe or in the mainstream.

I recall the excitement of our cat having a litter of five kittens but was unsettled to see one of them being pushed away. The runt was rejected. We were able to intervene and ensure its survival. It leads me to propose that many animals including us are naturally, inherently, inclined to harshly discriminate based upon a normality judgement. We are much more inclined to overcome differences now, but in early times all of us were much more prejudicial. An initial distaste and wariness are often pushed aside, but only when we understand the person more.

There will always be some form of inconsistency in the way we treat people according to appearance. People will always find something to berate us with. For being fat, unsymmetrical, having acne or talking with a lisp or a myriad of other reasons. Many will take action to mask and hide the problem where they can, for they can’t be bothered with the issue. They do not want it to be the centre of what they are and have a real wish to engage with others on things of their choice. They don’t want to be defined by their noticeable physical oddity. There is more to someone than what they look like and it is a tiresome timewasting hassle to be constantly dealing with the barriers. Nevertheless, only a saint is able to honestly say that they never ever discriminate. We do judge and differentiate people in many ways, whether it is about someone’s education, accent, dress sense, conduct, manners, spending habits etc etc. Few are immune. We think that these kinds of judgements are fair but saying anything derogatory about physical differences is not. It is useful to remind ourselves of this when we don’t want the grief of taking action against perpetrators of unkindness.


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