The not-to-do list: Accept normalcy

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Emily Linderman

Emily Linderman

I didn’t realize how weird I was until I got to college, and I didn’t reach my full weird-potential until I moved in with my apartment-mates this August.

In the past few months, I have watched countless hours of obscure YouTube videos, become strangely obsessed with a new phrase each week — last week it was “freakin’ bats” — and acquired a pillow with Nicholas Cage painted as a Revolutionary War hero on it.

There’s something so freeing about being yourself at your weirdest. I have the best friendships I’ve ever had, and I am the most confident I have ever been. In many ways, my weirdest life is my best life.

But really, who’s to say that the Nick Cage pillow on my couch is weird? What makes something, or someone, normal?

Merriam-Webster defines normal as “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle” and “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.”

Conversely, weird is defined as “unusual or strange.”

The next logical question is: What are the standards “normal” conforms to, and who gets to decide them?

Normal is what most people do. There are social norms that most everyone knows and abides by in a society. For example, you eat soup with a spoon. If you eat soup with a fork, that’s weird. In an elevator, you face the front.

But I’m not talking about societal rules. I’m talking about personalities — all the interests, thoughts and behaviors that make a person unique. That’s the thing about personalities: Each one is unique.

There is not one single type of person that is “normal.” It’s an individual’s quirks that make a person interesting.

The social pressure to blend in, however, makes it difficult to embrace those traits about you that make you special and interesting.

I still haven’t figured out exactly what it is society wants from a “normal” person, and it varies across societies, social situations and generations. When you consider the factors that affect normality, there isn’t even one type of “normal.”

I know my personality isn’t for everyone. I come on a little strong. I am loud and energetic. I have been known to launch into my life story and crack a few sarcastic jokes with an enthusiasm that might lead one to believe I am on drugs.

But that’s who I am. I’m a talker. I’m a people-person and sometimes that makes people uncomfortable.

I love those “uncomfortable” traits about myself, but I do know when to rein it in, and that’s not betraying who I am. Just like I have accepted my weird personality, I have also accepted the inevitable need for small talk.

When it comes to a setting with people I’m comfortable with, though, I shouldn’t have to “rein it in.” Thankfully, I have been lucky to find people who have heard me scream-sing camp songs and still want to be associated with me. Those are the friends you wait for in your life.

As it is with most things, though, embracing your weirdness is easier said than done. Everyone wants to be well-liked, but also everyone likes different types of personalities. You can’t please everyone unless you tried to tailor your personality to each person you meet, and that just sounds like a recipe for an identity crisis.

In my group of friends, though, I am normal. My roommates and I frequently joke about being “the same person.” Our personalities are similar, and using the dictionary definition of normal, we are not deviating from our set norm.

People should feel free to present themselves as they are, quirks and all. I’ve found when you are unapologetic about who you are, you attract the kinds of people you’ll want to be spending my time with anyway. When you suppress your personality, you’ll be unfulfilled in your relationships. If people get to know a toned-down version of yourself, you’ll never know if they’ll like the real you. If you start to reveal your true self, and it turns out your real personalities don’t mesh well, it just leads to heartbreak and problems.

Question what it means to be normal and what it means to be weird.

In fewer words, be yourself, your weirdest self.

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Emily Linderman, ’19, is an assistant lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected] 

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