By: Elyssa Yeh, MA, R-DMT
Normal…what is it, and is there really such a thing? Normal seems to be an obscure, subjective, blurry, fuzzy, abstract, wishy-washy concept that we strive for on a daily basis. Isn’t it ironic how wanting to be normal is normal? Can you remember a time when you just wanted to be normal?
“Normal seems to be an obscure, subjective, blurry, fuzzy, abstract, wishy-washy concept that we strive for on a daily basis”
I can recall many times when I felt like the odd one out, the one who was different and not like the other kids or my peers. Sometimes, it felt like I was standing out for all the right reasons! But, other times it felt embarrassing, worrisome, terrifying…because all of a sudden I was not normal. I didn’t fit in! I felt abnormal, as if there was something wrong, defective, not up to par.
“It’s an odd experience to encounter when your world is suddenly shifted in a way that things are no longer normal.”
It’s hard to accept that, sometimes, this—these thoughts and feelings—happen when we receive a diagnosis that labels our families…our kiddos as not normal—not like the other kids their age. It’s an odd experience to encounter when your world is suddenly shifted in a way that things are no longer normal. When your idea of normal is questioned, when the comfort of normal is taken away, and when your child and your family are suddenly being compared and contrasted to normal.
Normal is a term that is often used synonymously with typical functioning, average, common, things that are expected of and applied to children, parents, and families. I have a hard time with the idea of normal because it inherently leads to a polarization between normal and not normal. But, let me remind you (as I often have to remind myself) that normal is subjective.
My normal most likely differs from your normal, and I’m not your normal. I don’t know what it’s like to live a day, a month, a year in your shoes, nor your child’s. However, I can empathize with the stress, the fear, the frustration, the worries, the disappointment, and the sadness of feeling like I don’t fit the ideal, cookie cutter “normal,” nor does my child.
“I’m not your normal.”
I can see this fear of the abnormal show up for the parents of the children I work with, and maybe it does for you too. Alongside the feelings pride, joy, and excitement you feel in raising your creative, unique, fun, loving, carefree, free-spirited child might also be the vulnerability, anxiety and fear of what comes next.
Today, take a moment to remind yourself that it's okay not to be someone else’s normal. It’s ok to be different. In doing so, we allow ourselves to establish our own normal where creativity, acceptance, uniqueness, openness, love, empathy, compassion, and self-expression, among other things can flourish and thrive! Being different is what makes you, your kiddos, and your family who and how they are.
“Alongside the feelings pride, joy, and excitement you feel in raising your creative, unique, fun, loving, carefree, free-spirited child might also be the vulnerability, anxiety and fear of what comes next.”
Below in the comments, I'd love to hear what makes your family unique? How have you embraced your normal?