Recently I was spending a gift card, and the credit card-reader rejected the transaction. The young clerk called for assistance and was guided to use the correct button on the register. She appeared to be embarrassed. I said something about the challenges of technology. She responded, “It is! And, last week someone wrote a check.” It took me a minute to comprehend what she meant. I asked, “Is that unusual?” She nodded her head and looked at the ceiling.
Leaving the store, I felt my age.
Also this week, someone told me schools are removing analog clocks because kids don’t know how to read them. That, along with realizing I need to print the notes I send to my grandkids because cursive is obsolete, I pondered my confused perceptions of the current world. The term normal came to mind, and I wondered what is normal, anyway? My normal must not be normal.
Synonyms for normal include natural, traditional, regular, ordinary, average, and conventional. Whatever it’s called, one thing I know for sure: Normal has a range. Think about the bell curve. Average covers more area than the extremes toward the end.
Not only do we have unique personalities which include preferring extroversion or introversion, but kids with the same parents also have different life experiences. Your moods, thoughts, or reactions are usually different from your siblings or parents.
The normal range is broad; for example, healthy blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. Defining a normal orchid, beer, or church is difficult for the same reason.
Do you wonder if your emotions or behaviors fall within the normal range? Try this: Imagine ten people lined up in front of you who have had a similar experience as yours. Ask yourself how many would respond or react as you did. If you think five or more have similar reactions, consider yourself in that magic normal zone. If not, it is time to be honest, challenge your thinking, and change. Check in with those ten people often, and depending on your conclusions, change what you’re doing or allow yourself to know your responses were somewhere in the range of acceptability.
Normal is just a word, and how we perceive our world is as varied as thumbprints. Try replacing the word normal with okay; it is kinder and far less intimidating.
What is YOUR normal?
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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