WhAt iS NoRMaL?

There is this word we all seem to throw around willy-nilly like it’s a measure of how successful our life is. We use it as a measurement against what we consider undesirable or taboo. Like if we just achieve this thing we will be loved, accepted and our lives will be perfect. This is sooo not correct.

We use it soothe ourselves if things go askew. “That’s normal,” we tell ourselves if someone grieves for a loved one for a long time. “That’s normal,” we say if someone is questioning their sexuality or gender identity. “That’s normal,” we say if we are depressed because of financial difficulties.

The problem is that there is no normal. And when we relegate things to the realms of normal and not normal it puts a stigmatism on the latter. You can grieve for a bit but not too log because that’s not normal. You can question your sexuality or identity but if you don’t ultimately decide you’re heterosexual and the gender assigned to you at birth then you’re not normal. You can be depressed by things like losing your job or not being able to pay the bills but if you just wake up with pervasive sad feelings one day with no specific reason that’s not normal.

[Side note: Please get help if you are depressed or anxious or have thoughts of suicide or anything else that is affecting your ability to function in life. I love you and I care about you and I want you around and doing well for a really long time. Also incidentally if you have a hard time talking to people in person or on the phone and you are in a bad spot there is a crisis text line: 741741. You don’t have to get over the fear of talking out loud to a person and it’s a good resource for people, like me, who will never voluntarily pick up a phone call.]

We have equated normal with successful in our society and it’s just not true. A lot of the people I consider successful don’t fit into a traditional definition of normal. They are non gender conforming, they are severely depressed, they are so beaten by anxiety that they are nearly hermits,they don’t work a 9-5 Monday-Friday job, they have tattoos. They are all doing what they want with their life though. I doubt any of these people consider themselves normal because of what society has defined it to be and I also doubt any of these people actually think of themselves as a success. But they are beautiful.

You guys (and I say that in the most gender-neutral way possible) when we tell people they are not normal and need to conform to arbitrary societal regulations in order to be a good person or to be loved or to be accepted bad things happen.

The self-reported attempted suicide rate in the U.S. is 4.6%. Among gay and lesbian people it is between 10 and 20%. Among transgender people it is closer to 40%. Several studies have shown that rates are higher in the trans community because their families rejected them, because their workplace or school harassed and/or bullied them, because healthcare providers discriminated against them, because they suffered sexual abuse because of their non-conformity. It’s not because they are trans, it’s because of what people are doing to them and how others are perceiving their worth as a person. This is not okay.We need to stop defining things as normal and not normal because it is hurting people.

Relationships with other people are hard. For some of us it’s harder than we’d like it to be. We closet ourselves away from the rest of the world because it’s too much effort to try to be out in it. It’s too much effort to try to get someone to understand that you don’t fit the mold of outgoing and uber happy that our world defines as normal. So we don’t and as a result we become more hermity and reserved and possibly more depressed and anxious.

I am introverted.

I need a day’s worth of rest after going out but I can take pictures that make people happy

I have depression and anxiety but I can binge a show on Netflix like a champ.

I am a horrid housekeeper but I can plan an international trip cheaper than any travel agent because I research the hell out of everything.

I need a severe amount of motivation to pick up the phone but I can quote the entire movie of The Princess Bride.

I have a hard time sticking to plans I’ve made but I won’t discriminate or stop loving you because you are gay, bisexual, transgender, cross-dressing or otherwise.

I have tattoos.

I am not normal.

I don’t think I want to be normal.

We need to let people just be. We don’t love someone because they conform to an idea in our head of what we should all strive to become. We love them because they are beautiful people who make the world brighter by being in it. And we need to let them know that. The world is scary enough without us making it harder by shoving people into places where they don’t fit.

Know this: You are not alone and you are loved.