I’m asking, since I surely don’t know from personal experience.
Just like finding out what it takes to be cool, the search for a “normal” person is another somewhat abstract search in which perception determines the outcome. Being normal can be seen as a bad thing, as synonyms may include “average”, “unexciting”, “boring”, “drab”, “dull”, or “unoriginal”. But in a society where sometimes the desire to be noticed by being different becomes pretty obvious and predictable within subcultures (example: goth, emo, the regular cast of L.A. Ink, etc.), I have discovered a new appreciation for “normal” people in my life. In fact, I see being normal as an admirable thing- though for me, it’s a pretty unattainable goal.
On the surface, my life would seem pretty normal and American. Out of college, I got an office job, got married at age 27, and now I am having a kid at age 29. I am not involved in anything that could be deemed crazy, extreme, or dramatic. And it’s not that I made it a point for my life to appear so normal, it just happened that way. But if my life was a reality show (which I would never sign on to- that means you, TLC), it would become obvious very quickly how my quirks alone would disqualify me from being normal. Yet maybe that’s why America is obsessed with reality TV- because it breaks down people whom we may consider to normal, and we like that because it reaffirms to us that it’s normal to not be normal.
In preparation for writing this post, last Saturday during breakfast I had my wife help me think of the most normal people we know. We were able to come up with four. One of them is a guy named Jon, who I work with. So when I mentioned to him yesterday that he is one of the most normal people we know, he laughed and said, “Well it’s good to know that somebody thinks I’m normal”, implying “…if you only knew…”
So far, as I’ve asked people on facebook and in real life what makes a person normal, not one person has volunteered to admit that they are normal. The typical response is to quickly search their family tree and circle of friends to find a candidate for normalcy, only to put the rare “normal person” in the same mystical category of unicorns and that flying dog thing from The Never Ending Story.
It’s just not normal to be normal. And ironically, if you truly are normal, that makes you a little weird. Below are The Rules of Being Normal, followed my some feedback from facebook on what makes a person normal.
The Rules of Being Normal
1) Look normal. When thinking of normal people I know, I disqualified one guy simply for being “too good looking”. And another for being under the age of 40 and having an ironic mustache. In the same way that Jesus’ physical appearance kept him from standing out from his Jewish countrymen, so must a normal person not be found regularly standing out from the crowd, in order to be considered normal.
2) Act normal. Being relevant has a lot to do with it. And well-rounded. It means being able to participate in conversations that even when you don’t know a lot about the subject, you don’t make it obvious. And you don’t have to always dominate the conversation by bringing up something bizarre in an effort to contribute and feel a part of the group- because that definitely alienate you instead.
3) If all else fails, keep someone close to you who is definitely not normal or a lot less normal than you. If my wife was weird, no one would ever know it because she’s married to me. By simply being the “most normal” person in a group of people who aren’t normal, you by default become normal. And that counts.