By GoodTherapy.org Staff
People generally want to be accepted. For many, this means fitting in with the crowd. In order to do that, you may feel pressure to think and behave a certain way. The trouble is that when you try so hard to be what someone else considers normal, you may lose a part of yourself in the process.
Here are seven reasons why you should stop trying to be normal and start being yourself instead:
1. Normal May Mean Playing it Safe
It takes courage to stand out from the crowd and follow your own path. It may be easier to simply do what everyone else is doing, but it probably won’t be nearly as fulfilling.
It can take a huge amount of energy to try to be normal. When you choose normality, you may inadvertently be giving up some of your own strength. You can empower yourself by choosing to honor your authenticity and staying true to who you are.
The choice is yours. You can either choose to potentially be limited by concepts of normality, or you can choose to free yourself and live your life in a way that feels natural to you. You may never know what you can achieve until you try. So rather than trying to be normal, use that energy to discover your own unique potential.
2. Normal Is a Subjective Ideal
The concept of normality is more of a subjective opinion than an objective reality. Each culture develops its own consensus of what is normal. What one culture may consider commonplace another may find unusual.
“The world ‘normal’ suggests there is a right and wrong way to be a person,” said Pandora L. MacLean-Hoover, LICSW. “There isn’t. There is a spectrum of acceptable behavior in lawful societies like ours. It’s vast and varies greatly.”
There is no cookie cutter definition of how a human is supposed to behave. The idea that there is some ideal standard all humans should conform to is likely unrealistic and can be psychologically limiting. All you can do is trust in yourself, honor your values, and do what makes you happy.
3. Normal Is Not Easily Defined
It is often easier for people to define abnormal than it is to nail down a definition of normal. The reason for this is there is no clear definition of what normal is. It is only when someone deviates from what is generally conceived as ordinary that people become concerned with such labels.
“People widely embrace the notion they can always do better,” MacLean-Hoover said. “In doing so, they frequently deny themselves opportunities to validate their efforts. I suggest people become acquainted with the phrase, ‘I did my best.’”
4. Perfection Does Not Exist
Often, when people are trying to be normal, what they’re really trying to achieve is perfection. Perfection is unattainable, and when you strive for it, you may end up focusing too much on perceived flaws and not enough on strengths.
According to Andrew Archer, LCSW, a major drawback of trying to achieve perfection is that it is generally driven by a feeling of not being “good enough.”
“The self-fulfilling prophecy of perfectionism leads to perpetual cycles of dissatisfaction because the person gives 110% all the time, but never believes that they themselves are worthy or deserving in some way,” Archer said. “The negative belief gets in the way of ostensible achievement.”
Humans are not perfect. Mistakes happen and that is how we learn. Choose to find the beauty in the imperfections. If everything was already perfect, there wouldn’t be any room for growth.
5. People May Miss Out on Your Uniqueness
When you identify yourself as normal, you may be giving up your personal identity. We all have our differences. Embrace yours, and respect those of others.
Everyone possesses unique characteristics and qualities. When you deny yourself the right to be uniquely you, the entire world could be missing out.Can you imagine how boring life would be if everyone was the same? Everyone possesses unique characteristics and qualities. When you deny yourself the right to be uniquely you, the entire world could be missing out. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor: be yourself and be proud of who you are.
“If being ‘normal’ means being the same as others, then the benefits for being different are enjoyed in the form of recognition. This is especially true for creative people,” MacLean-Hoover said. “Striving for normality may magnify fear of failing while it diminishes creativity. Being curious and creative requires taking risk. Worrying about living up to a nonexistent standard puts a person’s emphasis on the outcome instead of the process.”
Emphasizing the outcome and seeking external acceptance is not likely to help you feel fulfilled. You are more likely to find genuine happiness through self-acceptance. Rather than trying to get other people to love you, try to simply love yourself.
6. Labels Are for Soup Cans, Not People
Labels are useful for some things, but they often don’t fit in well with the messy world of human emotions and personality traits. Even psychological diagnoses can be challenging to make, as no two people diagnosed with a single condition are exactly alike.
If normal is equated with the status quo, then abnormality becomes equal to nonconformity, Archer said.
“The American Psychological Association and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual are good examples of a process that is implicitly defining normality through a diagnostic classification system of ‘disorders,’” Archer said. “There is a sense of abnormality created when a person is diagnosed with a ‘mental illness.’ The injustices of this system are both the eradication of culture within the process and the lack of definition for ‘normal.’”
People are not easily categorized, and perhaps this is for the best. Human life is too organic to be rigidly classified. Normal might be more of an abstraction than a human experience.
7. Normal May Not Change the World
Normal may be similar to usual, average, typical, or expected. Normal implies conforming to a preconceived standard, which can limit your potential. You might never achieve the extraordinary as long you choose to remain ordinary. Normal generally doesn’t mean stretching limits. Normal doesn’t commonly mean thinking outside the box. Normal usually doesn’t mean achieving greatness.
“Typically, we get caught up in comparison of what we think was normal or should be ideal when we reflect on the past or daydream on potential future understandings of who we think we are,” Archer said.
Don’t be normal. Be you.
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