The only place to find a real definition of the word “normal” is in the dictionary.
This word has a place in science but not necessarily in society.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines normal, in part, as “approximating the statistical average or norm.”
There is no one definition of how to act normally because it can differ vastly from one person to the next.
On top of that, let’s use the words average and basic, which are synonyms for normal.
- “I love being friends with you! You are so normal!”
- “I love being friends with you! You are so average!”
- “I love being friends with you! You are so basic!”
The first could be a compliment.
The second two could be insults.
Is Being Normal Real?
In a true scientific study, you can be above, below, or at normal. Your temperature can be normal.
You can even visit Normal, Illinois. The problem with a subjective look at the word is that it means something a little different to everyone.
- Where You Are: What’s normal in Los Angeles isn’t in Seattle. The standard behavior in a church is different than in a social circle at a bar.
- Who You Are: Being a standard 30-year-old is hard to define. Should you be married with kids? Should you be making a certain amount of money? Should you have already figured out coping mechanisms for life’s challenges?
- What Generation You Are: There are characteristics of GenX that Millennials wouldn’t dream of, and GenZ has clearly judged the Boomers for being the Boomer version of acceptable.
- Life Experiences You Have: Those raised on farms find it natural to milk cows or help with the harvest. Those in a big city might find it bizarre even to consider milk coming from cows. You buy it at the grocery store.
Normal is only as real as you believe it to be in your mind.
If you try to be acceptable by the standards of one group, you’ll surely be strange to another group.
It is a concept, not reality.
Faster than you can say, “I JUST WANT TO BE NORMAL,” the rules of normalcy change and adapt.
What Is Being Normal Like?
What people really strive for is how to be normal and not weird. It means falling in line, compliance, conformity, and painting a life within the lines.
In some ways, conforming can be a shield of invisibility.
You blend in with the crowds around you and can be a chameleon in any situation.
You don’t get noticed as much, but you also don’t get called weird.
- How To Act Normal: Go with the flow and follow the leader. Don’t get too upset, but also don’t be too dismissive of emotions. Cry when the dog dies in the movie. Love the Harry Potter movies even if deep down you don’t. Say all the hot buzzwords once they start trending on social media.
- How To Look Normal: Make clothing decisions based on fashion magazines and social media influencers. Never get a haircut or color that isn’t repeated hundreds of times in Glamour magazine. Mask any feature that makes you stand out, like a large bustline or bushy eyebrows.
“I was always fascinated by people who are considered completely normal, because I find them the weirdest of all.” – Johnny Depp
How to Be Normal: 13 Ways to Feel More Normal and Less Weird
If you’re always trying to conform, you will fail more than you succeed.
It is like a gnat flying around in the summer heat; you can see it and try to catch it, but it will keep moving while you become frustrated.
Being normal is a concept that could reduce some stressors in your life, but it can also be triggering.
Take this advice with a grain of salt and a lot of grace.
1. Know Your Oddities
So maybe you speak in a Game of Thrones accent when you are nervous. If you habitually get weird looks when you do this, as you scour the crowd for someone laughing, only to be met with glares, maybe stop doing that.
Just because your dear old dad likes to high-five you when you finish a meal doesn’t mean you raise a hand at the cool new restaurants your crew is trying out for the first time.
Know the parts of your personality and style that can be seen as “abnormal” based on previous feedback, and adjust accordingly.
2. Find Your Unique Normal for Your Body
Unique normal sounds like a contradiction, right? You can’t control that you are 5’10 when it’s standard to be 5’4.
What you can do is look up famous people who share your height. Who doesn’t want to look at Gisele Bundchen or Tyra Banks? They are both 5’10.
You can “normalize” yourself by acclimating to what other people with your distinct features do to blend in.
Paris Hilton famously talks about her size 11 feet. How did she adapt? She started her own shoe line, allowing others who face the same foot fate to feel more comfortable.
These places will be different for every age group and locality. If you’re in college, going to football games is a common practice.
Make sure you wear a traditional t-shirt or sweatshirt from your university and cheer when others are cheering. Visit the “usual” watering holes when you get your first job.
Start slowly if you’re worried about how to be normal and not weird. Listen to the group, laugh at the jokes, order the most popular item on the menu, and slowly engage in conversation.
Avoid crass statements like, “I’m so hungry I could eat the lining of a rhinoceros.”
4. Follow Trends Online
The internet and social media have given us great ways to know what’s common to watch with trending hashtags. If you see a new season of #TheWilds is trending, spend a night binging.
You’ll be better suited to engage in conversations with colleagues or classmates.
You can also be a good observer in the break room or on the subway by hearing what other people are talking about during any season.
5. Be Open To “Normal” Line Movement
You probably could hear a collective “whoosh” as women ripped scrunchies out of their hair when Carrie Bradshaw told Burger that scrunchies were not cool and no self-respecting woman in New York would be seen in one.
This Sex & The City moment singlehandedly led to a scrunchie surplus at stores nationwide.
It can be especially challenging when you just cut your hair to adapt to the Fall look, but next Spring looks have long curly locks. Conforming can be costly when suddenly you’re spending money on extensions.
6. Talk to a Therapist
No, your best friend or stylist can’t be your therapist.
Am I too sensitive? Why do I take breakups so hard when others seem to get over them? Should I be happy or sad if my parents got divorced?
Therapists aren’t going to teach you how to respond as others do. They will guide you on basic techniques to cope with various life struggles.
You’ll be better adapted to handle any situation instead of always pushing down emotions and trying to appear pulled together.
7. Be Nice
A classic movie line is from Roadhouse when Patrick Swayze’s character, Dalton, said, “Be nice.” Even as he was teaching bouncers at a dangerous club how to interact with people, niceness was #1.
If you’re trying to fit in, be kind. Not fake nice. Actually kind.
Be a good listener. Help someone in need. Introduce yourself to the new colleague. Hold doors open for people.
Smile at every person that goes by, even if your cheeks feel bruised from smiling so much.
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8. Be Casual About Being Normal
As you adjust to going with the grain, don’t overanalyze or ask people if you meet the threshold of acceptable behavior. That would be weird to some.
Being normal is a perception each person is going to have individually. To a shy person, someone who talks a lot isn’t typical. In a Mormon community, drinking coffee is certainly not acceptable.
It’s probably better to grade your scale with a “how often did I feel weird?” range instead of getting someone to sign off on a “Totally Normal” social report card.
Like most people, you probably have a lot bottled up inside. Maybe you’ve been lonely and craving social interaction.
When you finally make the trek into a public space, don’t blurt out the bad breakup you just went through and take a verbal poll on whether you should burn your ex’s belongings or give them back.
Keep details to a minimum, not just for the sake of fitting in, but it’s also safer to protect your personal information from someone you don’t know if you can trust just yet.
10. Take Care of Yourself
Practicing good hygiene, healthy eating habits, and getting enough sleep will make you a better version of yourself before you even have to think about how to act normally.
Your mind will be fresh, and you’ll be less irritable when it comes to tolerating acceptable but potentially boring topics of conversation.
Don’t overdo the use of anything, from perfume to hairspray. You want to blend in, not stand out. Learning how to look like others can be as easy as just taking care of your beautiful self.
11. Practice Talking to Others
Start small with chatting up the mother waiting in line at Chipotle or asking the clerk at the gas station how their day is going. Try to handle small talk and niceties that you notice in others.
You can increase the challenge as you get more comfortable by talking to people in stressful situations or walking up to a large group of people at a party and simply introducing yourself.
12. Avoid the Ugly Side of Normal
Thinking, “I just want to be normal,” isn’t always going to make you the best person. It’s common for women to be catty, right? Many men can be insensitive, so it may seem acceptable.
Draw your line in the sand and set boundaries. Don’t engage in discussions about religion, politics, or other tense topics.
You may face the hard choice between saying nothing to appear regular or speaking up and being labeled “easily triggered.”
You can also cut off the so-called popular “Mean Girls” at the pass. If you see an awkward person at an event, introduce yourself and bring them into your group of friends.
You know exactly how they feel, so avoid any potential for people to make fun of the “wallflower” in the “ugly red sweater” in the corner.
13. Define Normal
Only you can determine what it means for you.
- Does being it also mean being basic?
- Should you run out and buy all the pumpkin-spiced everything on September 1?
- Should you get average test scores, so you don’t get pointed out for being a “nerd” in class?
You have to know what this word means to you. You should also rest easy knowing every regular person you’ve ever met has a lot of insecurities about how to act and look.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
“Why be normal?” might be running through some of your minds right now, and that’s a valid point.
Our society has reached a monumental pivot of diversity, inclusion, and authenticity. We might still have a ways to go, but the conversation has started.
If you avoid being like the acceptable people, it doesn’t mean you have to become an anarchist.
Being normal can be as easy as showing respect, adapting to cultural or societal standards in any given situation, and being authentic.