I’m sure the moment you read the title, you knew that I wasn’t serious. You might have felt compelled to read on to get the twist – or you are genuinely curious about how to be a normal guy. If it’s the latter, give me a call and we can talk.
Let’s clarify something up front – there’s no such thing as normal. Sure, there’s the ‘usual’ and the ‘average’ and possibly the ‘typical’ but normal is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s not uncommon to hear people say, I just want to be normal, or I want to know that I’m normal. However, when we explore what normal means, we quickly realize that it’s like playing on a field where the goal posts are completely invisible.
Pursuing a sense of normality can take an incredible amount of energy. This pursuit detracts from experiencing the best of what life has to offer. A good proportion of the ‘norms’ that we attempt are completely misguided, misinformed – and more importantly they always belong to someone else. Attempting to adhere to a sense of normality can have huge personal, social and cultural ramifications.
If you want to be be normal, here are five ways to get there:
1. Accept the Status Quo.
This implies that we accept and attempt to preserve certain values, principles, concepts and structures. The nature of the status quo is often so deeply entrenched in our lives, that we often don’t recognize it. For some, the status quo means that their circumstances are accepted without considering the potential for change, regardless of the potential. Maintaining our status quo, leads to discontent. If you want to be normal, accept the status quo, as the status quo.
2. Agree to all social and cultural norms and principles.
Social and cultural norms are an incredibly strong influence in our lives, often in ways that we are unaware of. These governing norms create the parameters of what behavior, views or opinions are viewed as acceptable or unacceptable. They also attempt to influence what will be tolerated and what could be considered abnormal. If you want to be normal, accept the mainstream view of how you should live your life.
3. Never critically question – anything.
As the old quote states; a life unexamined is a life not truly lived. The challenge here is that it requires us to examine and attempt to solve our own problems by applying various decision making process. Sometimes, it just feels easier to let others make decisions for us. Critical thinking helps create improved intellectual, emotional and spiritual self-mastery. If you want to be normal, sit back, relax and accept all arguments and assumptions that you observe.
4. Constantly compare yourself to others.
There is an instinctual desire to quantify where we sit in the grand scheme of all things. We look at others to satisfy this need, whether it’s the type of car we drive, how buff you look compared to the dudes in the movies, or how long can you satisfy your partner in bed. To be normal, is to accept only part of the picture presented to you and to create a foundation of competition rather than collaboration. It also makes it easier to avoid being present in our own unique experience of this life. Just join every social media channel available, spend hours ruminating over what’s posted and you’ll quickly start to feel normal.
5. Accept and conform to medical, social and cultural labels.
Conforming to labels is an Olympic sport for some and is highly regarded in many social environments. It’s easy to understand and accept things we’ve not critically explored when there’s an easy way to pigeon-hole, stereotype or classify something or someone (including ourselves) that we don’t understand. It provides a simple and effective way to discard accountability for the things we deep down know we need aren’t quite right.
If we’re brutally honest, the real question that many guys ask, is not what is normal, but “am I OK and do I fit in?” Such questions relate to a sense of self-worth.
A healthy sense of self-worth requires the ability to believe and trust in ourselves and that we as individuals matter, as opposed to seeking validation from external elements, i.e. social expectations of what normal is.
When we dig deep at how we feel and think about ourselves, it’s possible to see that one’s self-worth has most likely been conditioned by an intricate web of pervasive, invisible standards, narratives and statistics for a long period of time. With this knowledge, it’s possible to step back and answer the real questions we seek.
If we don’t like what we discover, then the next step is to be active in reconstructing new ways to empower ourselves and create ways to believe in ourselves and the value we bring into this world.‘Without self-worth, doubts and fears about our very existence will persist until they invalidate our dreams and vision, and undermine our greatest accomplishments’ (Bogee, 1998).
That’s certainly not being normal. Far, far from it.
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Image by Josh Hallett on Flickr
Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate, dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships.