Normal. What does that even mean?
Whenever I hear “normal” I just think “old school.” “Normal” holds a lot of judgment. If something is normal, then it must be okay right? Deviation from the norm holds a dirty stigma.
Times change. Without change we wouldn’t evolve. Change is scary, but it’s one of those necessary evils. I grew up in a time when it seems like there isn’t a “norm” anymore. Everyone has taken on this sense of individualism, and I think it’s great. I’m not sure how I would feel about it if I grew up 50 years ago, but I was raised to believe that everyone has a right to her own opinions, thoughts and preferences; both of my parents are liberal in that sense.
So, given my upbringing and liberal beliefs about society, I try to refrain from making assumptions about people. That old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” comes to mind now. People are full of surprises‚— hell, I doubt when someone sees me walking down the street they think I’m a 24-year-old college graduate. They probably think I’m a 19-year-old with a trust fund, but that’s just not the case — ha!
Today I was talking with someone from out of state, and I told her I’d visited her town before with a guy I dated a couple of years ago, and she replied, “Oh, I know how that is — I moved out there because of that!”
We kept chatting while waiting on someone to join us, and I asked, “So, you moved for a boy as well?” and she replied, “A girl.” I hated myself for assuming she was in a heterosexual relationship. Why did I do that?
I don’t believe that being straight is normal, so what made me think that this woman I’d never met before had the same sexual preference I do? I think she realized I was just trying to make small talk, and we continued our conversation, but I still felt bad for making the assumption I did.
Assumptions come from relation, not necessarily what we think is normal. I was trying to relate this woman’s experience to my own. I wouldn’t consider my beliefs and preferences normal or abnormal, they’re simply my own.
It’s like when holiday season comes around and everyone asks me what I’m doing for Christmas, and I reply that I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas. I don’t take offense to them assuming, even though I wear a Star of David around my neck — I just wonder why we have these assumptions. People seem to be more free and outspoken these days, and I don’t feel like being gay (or Jewish for that matter) are a deviation from the norm at all. I don’t think it’s okay to say that there even is a “norm” when it comes to things like sexual preference or religion.
I’m not judgmental over anyone’s sexual preference. I have family members who are gay, friends who are gay, friends who are straight, and friends who are bisexual. Not to mention I work in an industry known to be dominated by homosexual men, so in my world there is no such thing as a “normal” sexual preference.
For the record, I do not believe that sexual preference has any bearing on whether or not you’re a good person — that is determined more by one’s morals and actions, but we’ll save that for another column.
Yesterday’s definition of “normal” is thrown out by our ever-growing non-conformist society. The assumptions of today may be related to “old times,” but in the world we’re in now, they seem more like fictions. Defining normal, although Merriam-Webster may give several definitions, seems impossible. While something may be “common,” that doesn’t make it normal. In today’s world, that word just doesn’t apply.
There’s no normal. Does that scare you?