Benefits and Costs of Being Normal

Comparing apples and pearsNo wonder people want to be “normal.” Most terms that refer to the opposite of “normal” have negative connotations, like “strange,” “weird” and “freak.”

But to me and to other like-minded people “normal”has a negative flavor instead. When I hear “normal,”I think“average” or, even worse, “mediocre.” I cringe at the thought of those words being used to describe me or my life.

Rather than being “normal,” I want to be exceptional.

Why is there such a difference in  people’s opinion of the value of being “normal?”

One person can see the results of living a normal life as being beneficial. Another person can see those same results as carrying a heavy cost. It’s all a

matter of what a person values. The problem is that Few people consciously choose what’s important to them. They just go through life with the values they were given or the values they picked up along the way. Most people don’t really take a close look to decide if they’d really prefer something different. Without thoughtfully considering how important it is to be “normal,” people are practically destined to go the route of living a normal life.

The Benefits of being “Normal”

Being Normal Allows Anonymity

When we are “normal” we don’t have to worry about drawing  attention to ourselves. That way, we don’t run the risk of looking silly, foolish or incompetent. Without trying new things, we are more likely to maintain the appearance of doing a good job  in life—good enough, that is.

Being Normal Makes Life More Predictable

When we live within the confines of “normal,” we can be reasonably confident of what to expect.     There is a lot less risk when we follow an already-laid-out path. Other people have gone before and cleared the way for us so we can enjoy reasonably predictable results in life.  At least, it seems that way.

Being Normal takes Less Effort

In our society, we value comfort. We don’t just value physical comfort. We place a high value on emotional comfort, too. Being “normal” allows people to avoid feeling challenged and experiencing the certain discomfort that comes with doing new things. As a college professor of mine used to say, most people prefer to stay on“Easy Street” than do significant personal growth.

The Costs of Being “Normal”

Anonymity, predictability and personal  comfort come at a high price

  • Hiding in the shadows precludes standing out, which is necessary when making any significant changes in the lives of other people.
  • Going for predictable eliminates new opportunities and the discovery of things that are better than the norm.
  • Living risk-free guarantees limited influence in the world.

“Normal” is the enemy  to those of us who strive to better humanity. We have to be willing to live an exceptional life if we want to make a difference. Living small can only be self-serving because nobody else will benefit when we live that way.

Forget being normal, be weird!


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