What is Normal?

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One of the benefits of following and reading other bloggers’ work is that you can sometimes steal an idea and run with it, which can be handy if you’re racking your brain trying to come up with a topic.

Such was the case for me this week, as it was one of those weeks where the time to sit and type was approaching, and I had bupkus for a subject. Then good ol’ Superman ended his Playing the Card piece with a question that is the title of this one. That question struck a nerve, and I instantly knew I had my topic. So thank you, Billy Mac.

“Normal” can be judged on so many levels: health, looks, intelligence (perceived or otherwise), attitude, what we do for a living, and personality, to name a few. I could throw politics into the mix, but I reserve the right to revisit that down the road because our current political climate is anything but normal. Today’s challenge is to be brief and concise, as I could rant and pontificate forever about this topic because it really annoys me.

I hate the word “normal” as it applies to people because implies that someone who isn’t has something fundamentally wrong with the them, and is less of a person.

I have Multiple Sclerosis, which obviously places me in a minority status, but I have hopes, dreams, desires and fears like everyone else. I don’t want to be treated differently, pitied, or viewed as something less of a person, and I certainly don’t want anyone to lower their opinion or expectations of me simply because I have a hitch in my giddy-up. I also don’t want people who see me for the first time to go out of their way to avoid me. Unfortunately, some of us who live with a disability help perpetuate this stereotype by playing the victim card, which I abhor, and give people a reason to avoid them because they are so annoying.

Nidan is pursuing a career in Human Services, so I have had the pleasure of learning about and meeting many people, mostly kids, who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome, ADHD and conditions of that nature. They are genuinely kind, unique, wonderfully quirky individuals who have an interestingly different point of view compared to us neuro-typical folks. Unfortunately, their black and white thinking often leaves them clueless when it comes to nuances and shades of grey. They are oblivious to social cues, and are often unfairly judged and shit upon by both peers and adults because they appear odd.

School districts aren’t kind to them either. Some don’t know how to teach the kids or how to assimilate them into the student body, and turn a blind eye to the constant and often vicious bullying they are subject to. And if you happen to be a kid who is clinically on the spectrum but is very high functioning and looks “normal?” Well, something must really be wrong with that kid, and they are treated accordingly.

While no school administrator would admit this, I suspect more than a few would like nothing better than for these kids disappear or be home-schooled. Either that or persuade their parents give them drugs to make them compliant zombies. It would certainly make their jobs easier.

People fear what they don’t understand, and often don’t take the time to learn about something unless it affects a loved one or family member. It is easier to remain ignorant and shun people we aren’t comfortable being around because they have problems, and could be a bad influence on our kids.

Our collective attitudes toward anyone or anything that does not fit our model of what should be has become progressively cruel, and it doesn’t help when our President sets the example by openly mocking and ridiculing someone with a disability. Perhaps this a symptom of an all-about-me society that is becoming increasingly narcissistic. Perhaps it a by-product of an evolving U-Tube culture that thrives on being sensationally controversial.

Does living with anxiety issues make you abnormal? Are you abnormal if your IQ is below average? Does being an atheist make you a warped, twisted individual? Does not being blessed with good looks, or having significant weight issues make you less of a person? I think not!

It feels like we have become increasingly intolerant and unkind towards anything different, and we gleefully put down anyone who is. It seems we have become so insecure that we have to tear others down to prop ourselves up. How sad is that?

It’s also misguided because nobody is perfect. Let’s be honest. We all have issues of some kind. Some are more visible than others, and some of us hide it better than others. But if we accept that premise, then what is normal?  Everything, or nothing?

The reality is we are all flawed to some degree, which makes us all the same. And in the final analysis, does it really matter?

 

 

 

 

Author: Steve Markesich

I am loving husband, a doting father, a Red Sox fanatic, an aspiring novelist and MS advocate. Feel free to check out my stevemarkesich.com web site.

13 thoughts on “What is Normal?”

  1. I read billy’s piece and thought it was great but like you it got my mind turning…… What exactly is playing the card? I talk about me all the time. Is that playing a card? Honestly the fact that I have me comes up all the time. I try to educate people every chance I get!!!!!! Maybe you are referring to the victim card? I am sure I’ve done that at times too when I explain why I need to sit down instead of your energy filled two year old in a crowded office….while at the same time giving up my seat to someone using a walker…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the victim card is more about attitude, not trying to educate or inform. Like if you always seem pissed off, or constantly whine or complain but never do anything about it. When you think life owes you something because of the cards you have been dealt.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re both right. Talking about yourself is not playing the card. As I stated in my piece, it’s when you try to elicit sympathy or an advantage. I would NEVER accuse either of you off doing that

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Even before RP, I didn’t feel “normal” and was taught that this was not ok. I grew up in a family where anything other than what they considered to be “normal” was something to treat with disdain. I experienced their shame of me so many times, but as I got older, I learned to love that I didn’t fit in the frames they constructed. I can’t deny having days where I feel seriously bummed that I have RP, but it has also helped me see the world differently and to make me feel so lucky that I chose to live outside the constraints of what I was taught was normal. I don’t think normal really exists.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great piece, Steve. Right on in so many ways. Normal needs to be graded on a curve lest we want to become Zombies. Our individuality should unite is, nor separate. But, normal is easier for the small minded to wrap their heads around

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nice piggy back off Billy’s question! You are both such gifted writers, expressing ideas on paper can go wrong in so many ways… this was a brilliant post. What is normal? YouTube? Reality TV? CNN? None of us even have a good candidate to put in that supposedly general category of normal. Don’t even get me started with the term, “special needs” kids… can’t we just take pleasure in the uniqueness everyone brings to the table? I cannot define normal, so I’ll take the kindness stance. I hope by treating others with kindness, it’s atleast a step in the right direction.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Whenever someone has said to me, in life, that something shouldn’t be done, or done a certain way, because nobody else does it, I would always ask who made the rules. And why do we follow them? I suppose, then, I’ve always stood out as “not normal.” That’s okay, I’ve always preferred it that way. I even despise when folks post the president doing something stupid (which is several times a day) and adds “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!” As if normal is the way to be, and abnormal is malignant.

    There are good norms and bad norms and good irregularities and bad irregularities. I like to consider myself a benevolent irregular, and prefer to surround myself with the same. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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