Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writers Workshop: Normal is...

Here's the definition of the word "normal" according to the 1998 edition of the Webster's American College Dictionary:

1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; regular; natural.
2. serving to fix a standard.
3. of natural occurrence.
4. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.
5. free from any mental disorder; sane.
6. free from disease or malformation.
7. a. being at right angles, as a line; perpendicular.
b. of the nature of or pertaining to a mathematical normal.
8. the normal form or state; the average or mean.
9. the standard or common type.

I'm stopping at #9, since #10 deals with math and more perpendicular lines, and I'm worn out from the other definitions.

Let's analyze these definitions, shall we, Kittens? I'm really bothered by the word "conforming" used in the first one. I don't like that word. To me, conforming means that one has to be the same as everyone else. Conformity leaves no room for individuality. Conformity means one can't celebrate one's true self. Conformity sucks.

Definition #2: "serving to fix a standard." Well, whose job is it to set that standard? And how did that person obtain the power/means to set a standard? The same standard can mean different things to different people. Who decides what normal is? This leads to people being judgmental. That sucks, too.

Definition #3: "of natural occurrence." How did we determine what is natural? Who determines what is natural from what is artificial? We can create artificial chemicals from so-called natural materials. So is artificial natural?

Definition #4: I object to the word "average." Here's what average means to me: dull. Boring. Ordinary. Average, for me, represents beige, brown and ecru. Who determines what is average? How did this person get to determine what is average? Could it be the process of natural selection (see #3)? Was Darwin the one who separated the natural from the artificial?

Definition #5: "free of any mental disorder; sane." This irritates me the most. As a life-long sufferer of anxiety and its best buddy, depression, this immediately disqualifies me from being "normal." I will not let a dictionary determine whether or not I am qualified to meet a standard.

Definition #6: "free from disease or malformation." Again, Webster's Dictionary, you're pissing me off. I have asthma. So that means I'm not normal? That means I'm a freak?

Definition #7: OK, we're getting into math here, and I'm not a mathematician. I'm skipping over this one.

Definition #8: Again, more math here. Next.

Definition #9: "the standard or common type." Again, who determines what's standard? What's common?

My point is this: normal is bogus. I don't think there is such a thing as normal. We all need to celebrate our own individuality and not let society, or anyone else, tell us how to be. I'm going to celebrate my quirks and be proud of the person I am, and I hope that y'all do the same!

Kitten has spoken.


Jenners said...

The Kitten has spoken! I remember in high school, my girlfriend and I (who thought we were hilarious and witty beyond words) wore these buttons that said "Why be normal?" And you have given quite a few good reasons not to be.

CDB said...

1998 version, huh? Last one purchased as an undergrad? (just a guess!) (:

Was this a "normal" comment?

That.Girl said...

The dictionary is kind of lame when you think about it. By those definitions, I can't think of a single person I know, or have met that fits the definition of "normal".

Great job!

Jodi said...

We have asthma in common my friend. It is a dreadful disease. At least we be "not normal" together.

Mel said...

Preach it, Bookkitten, preach it!

NurseExec said...

GREAT post!

Mimi Lenox said...

Who wants to be normal?!!
That's so boring.....