Recently, I watched a Netflix show called Atypical. The main character is a teenage autistic boy. There was a scene where he was commiserating with his sister. Some kids at school had been making fun of him. In frustration, he said, “I wish I was normal.”
His sister’s boyfriend, who was present too, immediately piped up. “Dude, nobody’s normal,” he said.
I thought how much better off we’d be if we learned that lesson early in life.
It seems we’re constantly comparing ourselves. To others. To our sense of the ideal person. To someone we’re told we should be. To the kind of person our culture values.
We think there is a normal. That other people have it together. That we’re the only imperfect ones. The only ones who feel broken. The only ones wrestling with certain demons or struggling to hold it together.
But, in reality, the boyfriend was right: Nobody’s normal. When it comes to people, there is no such thing as normal.
We are whom we are. Genetics are part of it. Parenting is a part. Other outside influences, over which we had little or no control, are a part of it. Luck plays a role, too.
When we feel tension between whom we are and the person we think the world is expecting us to be — or the type of person the world rewards or values the most — we might think we’re not normal. Or think life would be so much easier if we could be different — more in line with what people expect or our culture values.
But we are whom we are. Perfection has nothing to do with it. And neither does someone’s expectations (or our own).
Rather, we must live the life that is unique to us — our life. It might seem harder than the life others have to live and, indeed, it might be harder. But there is nothing to be gained by such comparisons.
We can’t live someone else’s life. We can’t be someone else. We only can live our life.
Normal has nothing to do with it.