Today’s Daily Prompt: “Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?”
Normal. Interesting word.
Daily Prompt illustrated her post with a picture of a bell curve. A bell curve is a normal distribution for any number of things. So should we define the centre of the curve as “normal”? Really it’s just average rather than normal. The other idea that gets associated with normal is “ordinary”.
So we have three concepts that are often mixed and confused; normal, average and ordinary.
I was at the Doctor recently and, after having some problems with iron levels and a couple of other things, my blood workup was normal. That’s a great example of when normal is a good thing. Normal means inside a particular range that means a body is functioning well.
The same was true when I had my intestines examined by three cameras a couple of years ago, everything was normal. Here we have normal meaning nothing wrong.
I’ve battled depression and anxiety for most of my life so my mental health is not normal. To deal with me you have to turn to “abnormal psychology”, another way of saying not normal. When everything is going well I revel in feeling normal.
Then we have ordinary. Ordinary can be good, it usually is. Personally I like and enjoy ordinary, it’s considerably less stressful and is much less likely to produce anxiety.
That’s not always the case. I was reading an article by a psychiatrist about post traumatic stress disorder in Afghanistan veterans. He was arguing that while in Afghanistan huge amounts of stress is normal and therefore PTSD is an ordinary response to that. Ordinary but not good.
Average is often a loaded term. If someone does an average job or turns in an average performance we somehow think of that in a slightly negative way. That’s a terrible thing to do and quite wrong. If you have a look at a bell curve you can see that a fair amount of performances are close to average, only a few will be at the top and bottom of the curve.
People will often have different skills on different spots on that curve. Personally, when it comes to sports I’m probably at the bottom end of the curve, well below average. I lie in the middle for other skills like cooking, drumming and playing Scrabble. Then there are the skills where I am at the top end of that bell curve such as reading and writing. I also excel at fixing and maintaining Macintosh computers because I have over many years developed subject matter expertise well above average.
I also do some things that aren’t normal. Every couple of months some friends throw a dance party and I try and go to every one, that’s not normal for a man of fifty four. It’s normal for me, but not for most men my age. That’s another meaning of normal, normal as the way most people in society behave. That’s often good. Driving normally, for example, is a good idea. On the other hand you might enjoy a lot of things that aren’t normal as I do with my dancing.
So normal is a big concept. We conflate a lot of things into “normal”, quite a few with slightly negative aspects. Sometimes normal is good, sometime’s it’s not and sometimes not normal is good.
I think the important thing is that you find what is normal for you. Then normal is almost always good.