Every morning we wake up, unless in a hurry, we find that span of time where we are staring at something without knowing what to do. We are not trying to make sense out of anything. Things are going around us. After a few moments things start making sense and we start our routine. This is more noticeable more among children who are not yet molded according to a set of ideas.
Is there something like ‘normal’ at all? What is the idea of ‘normal’? It is when you find people around you who are trying to act like you.
How do we act when we are completely by ourselves?
Do you see how we change the mode of talking in-person or otherwise with different people? Our behavior changes depending on who we are interacting with. We are also constantly trying to fit people in a particular frame of personality so that it becomes easy to interact the next time we meet them. And when we come across a peculiar individual we find difficult to categorize, we are dumbfounded and dismiss them finding a reason.
Here are things we do in our effort to be normal: We cultivate hobbies which are ‘popular’; we read the ‘best-sellers’; we travel to ‘famous’ destinations and the music we listen to is the same as our ‘friends’.
Have you noticed the adults who, as children, danced at will and stand reserved and stiff trying to act as matured? This behavior is a regular reflection of trying to confirm to the ‘being normal’ idea.
Being normal: The brighter side
The advantage of having individuals behaving in a similar fashion makes it easy to engineer certain situations socially. It becomes an easy task to classify and study them. It cultivates a sense of belonging. However it is quite amusing to note that no amount of external influences including uniforms in school to the idea of being citizens of the same country can tone down the uniqueness in us.
The idea of uniform education
The uniform education in a classroom works when the method is imparting instructions: follow C, after B, after A.
How are new avenues opened by dropouts or people with little formal schooling? The sense of understanding which every individual develops depends on a lot of influences ranging from physical condition to parenting and culture.Not all systems of formal education allow this understanding to take its own course. How can two different students, who are nurtured in different environments, be expected to learn at the same pace and in the same manner?
This conflict is illustrated well in the following short story. Three students were quarrelling over who has a better understanding of the lessons taught by the master. The master decided to settle the dispute. He handed each one of them a different vessel and asked them to bring water from the flowing stream nearby. When they returned he asked, “Why does each vessel hold different amount of water?”
“Because their capacities are different” replied one.
“Is the water in one vessel better than in the rest?”
“No” said the students in one voice.
“Similarly, each one of you has a different capacity which will change with time”, concluded the master.
The effort to be normal arises out of the need to be accepted by the society in which we live. This begins when a child notices that doing certain actions attracts the attention of parents. The he repeats them at frequent intervals. This habit then peeps into every activity we do.
Although it may be socially advantageous, why deny our uniqueness the chance to come alive by trying to be normal?Let us appreciate the differences.
While concluding this post I am reminded of a story which brings out the paradox of being normal. There was a tower in a small town which housed a large clock. All the folks set their watches based on this clock. One day the clock stopped working and was undergoing maintenance. The mechanic was setting the clock according to his wrist watch and in turn the whole town was!