Wanting an answer to the question “Am I normal?” propels a lot of people to walk into my office. It’s my favorite question in the world to answer because the majority of the time I can respond with, “Yeah, pretty much as normal as the next guy,” and you can literally watch the anxiety melt off people’s faces. Seeing that sigh of relief is unquestionably one of the most awesome things about my job. I’ve also learned that whether or not we are “normal” is not a particularly useful question. The important thing to ask ourselves is whether or not there are any negative consequences to what we perceive to be abnormal.
It’s natural to compare ourselves to other people but quite frequently we become much too concerned about relatively benign things. I’ve never met anybody, self included, who isn’t “weird” in one way or another. It’s part of being human, yet people often feel ashamed. Behaviors that align with our personal value system and don’t cause problems for anyone else may not be true problems even though we fear that they may be abnormal or different.
Here’s what I’ve learned through the years – we need to have much more tolerance for the incredible diversity in what I consider to be natural and normal human behavior. People should be good-humored about their personal eccentricities, and focus less on comparing themselves to some statistical norm or average and instead take a good hard look at the consequences of their behavior. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
So hopefully you can go forth with the comfort that you are both totally normal and completely weird, just like everybody else. And if all that weirdness is causing you or someone close to you distress, that’s your cue to let someone like me know.