Stop Using The Word Normal

Stop using the word normal. Start using the word average. When you look at a Gaussian distribution, otherwise known as a normal distribution,  it runs from negative infinity to positive infinity.

In other words, for any characteristic, with a large number of people(this is an important statistical caveat), you’d expect that most people would aggregate around a mean. Most people would be average. In the graph above, the mean is 0 for the black distribution and that for the red and green distributions are their corresponding peaks. If we were to classify each distribution as a character trait, and we were to imagine a billion other character traits intersecting these distributions, we would be able to fit a distribution over all these distributions and that would look more representative of the human race.

If anybody were to tell you that you are not normal, then technically, they are telling you that you do not exist; “Remember negative infinity to positive infinity”- that is the span of normality we’re looking at. I’d like to believe that the word normal is misconstrued for the term average. Now, what if you were told that you are not average, I’d say more often than not, accept that as a compliment. I’ve often said that there are two ways to stand out. Either you do exceptionally well or exceptionally bad. EItherway, that would mean being at an extreme end of a distribution(obviously negative infinity does not seem like an ideal target).

As discribed ealrier by the use of different intersecting color coded graphs, it is important to note that a normal distribution of people is made up of a variety of people with different characteristics. These inter-individual variances are the nuances that distinguish one person from the other. Also, while individuals may be broadly placed on a spectrum, no single individual is characterized by one character trait. Hence, for a multiple of spectrums, an individual may be average for one trait and an outlier for another. So for instance, if black was for singing and green was for painting, an average painter would be an exceptional singer since the person would be in the postive infinity region in this distribution. This is certainly just an illustration; I’ve met people who seem to excel in multiple things. However, the idiosyncatic differences between individuals is what makes the world a beautiful place to live in . A world full of independently codependent individuals. A world with individuals uniquely placed in time, at a place for a purpose. 

So how do you identify yourself?

  1. Know that you do not even have to try to be unique. However, the manifestation of your full potential might not be achievable if you do not harness your strengths.
  2. Sometimes, harnessing your own strengths starts with celebrating others. Celebrating successes and strengths make you realize that goals are achievable, rather than brooding over how the world around you might be collapsing (as might be the case- take 2020 for instance). Like a picture, we can always shift our focus in our world and this is a decision you need to make for yourself. 
  3. A basic curiosity in one’s journey rather than his/her destination. Many have dreamt. Few have supported their dreams with pillars. Knowing which soil to sow your seed, knowing the type of seed to sew and which season to expect fruit are important. However, my seed might not be your seed. ‘Customization’ of your journey is still possible. It is an active process and the one thing it requires most is self-reflection at each step of the way.
  4. While identity is like a stamp; a definition of who you are, who you are identified as may or may not be congruent with who you really are and that is ok. However, if your purpose is linked to your identity, which I believe should be the case, your effort should be towards narrowing that gap- NOT TO PLEASE PEOPLE. BUT TO LIVE OUT WHAT YOU ARE MEANT TO BE.

If you’re going to be an outlier and I believe you should be, then it starts with realizing that it is ok to be an outlier. It is okay to stand out. It is ok to be different and it is okay to nurture what God has given you because only you can steward it.

Because of the word normal, many have misplaced their identity.  But it is ok, to not be “normal”.


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