7 Powerful Reasons You Should Stop Trying to Be ‘Normal’

Orange umbrella in crowd of gray umbrellasPeople 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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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Isabelle

    March 21st, 2016 at 10:36 AM

    Who can even say what normal is anymore? What is natural and feels right for me is going to be the opposite of what another person may feel. I think that it is far better to have grace, be accepting of others as well as yourself instead of always seeking to meet some standard of normal that no one even recognizes anymore.

  • Leigh

    March 21st, 2016 at 3:39 PM

    I tried for so long to fit into that conformity box that after a while I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
    I spent too much time looking for the person that I thought that everyone else wanted me to be instead of focusing solely on who I was and what I wanted out of life.
    I think that I spent way too long doing that; but on the flip side after a while I really did learn what I wanted out of life and now that is so clear to me now.

  • SEAN

    March 22nd, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    Be yourself. That’s all that we can do in this world to be happy is just to find a way to stay true to who we are. It is not easy because I know that there will be times when we feel that we are being pulled in a direction that tells us that we must be this or we must be that. But then one constant that you will always have in your life is when you are true to who you really are and you can draw from your own inner strength. That is something that will inevitably disappear if you are only worried about what others are thinking and not what will in essence make you happy.

  • patti

    March 22nd, 2016 at 2:28 PM

    normal is boring, different is exciting

  • Callison

    March 23rd, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    I often wonder just how much good in this world we think that we are doing by continuing to do the same old thing all of the time. I know that there is a temptation to do what is familiar but you have to know that doing something that forces you to think outside of the box can be a wonderful learning tool for you as well.

  • bryant

    March 24th, 2016 at 2:23 PM

    Why be normal?
    Isn’ t that on a t shirt somewhere that I’ve seen before?

  • Joyce M

    March 26th, 2016 at 5:41 AM

    There is a line between taking chances and being stupid. I am all for encouraging young people to take some chances in their lives, I do think that this can be good for them and that they can learn a lot from doing that. But don’t be stupid about it.

  • Noah

    March 26th, 2016 at 6:37 AM

    Nice article. Good job team!

  • Danny A

    March 28th, 2016 at 5:01 PM

    Why encourage normalcy? I find that a better thing to encourage is for one to be oneself, not some cookie cutter version of others aorund you. If you are just like everyone else then is there really anything all that special about you?

  • Piet

    June 14th, 2016 at 10:09 PM

    It is a very article indeed

  • RD

    November 11th, 2016 at 3:42 PM

    Knowing Right from Wrong. Go with your heart.

  • extraordinormal

    October 27th, 2018 at 5:09 AM

    I’m both normal and extraordinary, it’s possible, because my role model, Peter Hitchens is extraordinary. Not every action I take is what he does, but I took only the basics of his character mixed with my own uncommon twist to things: my diet, my beliefs, my learning, a combination not alike to the same mixture from others, because some of them differ from the beliefs of others, plus my own invented beliefs thrown in: antidisbelief, roboticism, antidisintellectualism, to name a few beliefs of my own invention. The emancipation of Germany’s the emancipation of mankind, and I intend to emancipate myself with my future job, and hopefully with my work in philosophy, recognizing is another invented belief of mine: I came up with the philogony (style of thinking, not a philosophy) that when a thing is recognized you can perceive it immediately from what is already known, like “ahh, that’s what it is, I recognize that” together with the belief that if it was unrecognizable, you wouldn’t get that first impression. On the contrary, my normal life involves a not-so-normal diet (mainly raw vegan, with the occasional vegan), and therefore I’m limiting cooked foods to ones in my cookbooks used occasionally, to vegan burgers, vegan hotdogs, and vegan pizzas and canapes and coffee, cola drinks and ginger beer & that’s it, and I smoke ( :O ). On my road to normality I’m not trying to be like everybody else but only as common as Peter Hitchens and as uncommon as a smallish amount of it. What fascinates me about him is that compared to my lonely and rather scary distinctiveness and freakiness of my past this guy isn’t so scary, and hence to fit in better is to take a role model, to stop being hated is simply to stop being different (people hate different) and again take a role model. I’ve been asking a few questions as to whether they’re normal and the default answer is yes. However I’m not too normal and to me that’s a cookie cutter standard of my own invention, hence the above name. However the beliefs attached to both raw veganism and Bolshevism as Peter Hitchens used to believe is 1. better health, 2. the peasant and industrial workman rather than the middle class, 3. the animals, 4. the feudal police and bondman are the enemy, 5. the environment, 6. the Proletariat, which is the Bolshevik lifeblood, and so forth, so you see certain things have beliefs attached. I abandoned a very few beliefs of mine and they were painful to give up but I felt better for it, less hateful (wasn’t hating as much), but I remain a mentalist and an anticlerical, to name a few of my hates. So yeah, be normal, and see how you will feel happier and better for it. Take a role model.

  • Glenda

    October 31st, 2020 at 11:40 AM

    What even is normal you can’t be normal everyone has their little problems so no one is normal

  • Nathan

    February 15th, 2022 at 6:00 PM

    I stopped trying to be normal and became the crazy side I used to hide from everyone else. Now, I get to laugh and enjoy life without worrying about people judging me (they still do, but I don’t care about what they think). I graduated college with a paralegal degree and plan to start a retail side business that I’m expecting to boom once I start. If I tried to stay normal, I would have had a different story to share.

  • Max

    October 5th, 2023 at 10:40 PM

    Of these abnormal things, they feel funny, I can smell the weirdness in them, but I suppose popular people want to use me as a scapegoat, especially my dad who boxes everything in the need to conform, I say no, why should I be a popular and accepted person? By definition persons are different to all mankind, an individual human being, being different, even to the point people don’t recognise what I am is what’s defined as a person. I’m a person because of all the normality which does work and is widely liked by the mainstream, may lead to me being cruel to people, ignoring fun, being disrespectful, putting people in categories. No way, if anything I’d rather play this weirdo who’s all alone, listening to the doors, than follow mediocrity of people who are against me, who want to probe me with questions, and to talk at me, not to me, and generally label me as strange, normal people is the downfall of mankind and the dumbing down of nations, if anyone popular gets pissed off at me in every mental facility I’m in then no, I don’t want to be that person.

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