Ever since the start of human history, being normal seems to have been defined as being identical to everyone else. Similarly, multiple dictionaries have defined normal as “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern” or, more specifically, conforming to the group you are in.
But is that really “normal?” Or is it just a way of pursuing personal desires?
In China, “996” means working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for six days a week. Until it was recently ruled illegal for employers to require employees to work 12-hour, six day workweeks, the 996 workweek became the social norm. People could even be proud of working extra hours without earning extra wages, thinking they will be promoted that way easily. The concept that working extra hours return rewards is reinforced as being normal when employers seem to promote more of the extraordinary workers.
Similarly, high school has been increasingly competitive due to the desire to be “normal.” And exhibiting a wide range of habits, being proficient in academics and in arts, sports, social skills, appearances, and more has become a requirement of a normal high school experience. To me, what I see is not gifted students shining in the center of the world, but the students who failed to be “normal” (that is, exhibited an average capacity for activity) curling up in the corner of the world.
Also, other than school and work, people are often expected to be tolerant of diversity in current society. Globally, many brands have been promoting diversity. For example, brands like Nike and Fenty Beauty have used plus-sized models. This act is indubitably greatly intended to motivate society to be more inclusive. However, many more conflicts have thus occurred. Society turned out to be more judgmental and sensitive.
The former manifests itself when people accuse those who object to the plus-sized models of engaging in discrimination. And the latter manifests itself when any act not pertaining to socially minority people may be regarded as highly discriminatory and socially unacceptable. Walking in society makes me feel like I am walking inside a land mine zone, watching my steps excruciatingly carefully to avoid the detonation of the myriads of land mines hidden underground.
Though, it is not to say promoting and accepting diversity is harmful, it is rather the very opposite. Showing one’s authentic self and not being disgusted by it is wonderful, yet when some people use this asset to manipulate society, society is poisoned.
In conclusion, what is normal then? Conforming to society? Being the expected way? Being the unexpected way? Being the majority who cares about the minority? Being the minority who hates the majority? No, I don’t think so. None of them are normal.
I think normal is about being yourself. Not constraining anyone to any fixed values or figures and allowing them to embrace whatever they feel the most comfortable being; Not fearing the shackles that society and people have created to fit people into groups; Not disdaining anyone who wishes to present their authentic self. I think that is being normal.