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Ah. Just as I'd begun to suspect after years of wondering why I couldn't just look like So-and-So, why things in my world always seemed to go screwy while things for "everybody else" seemed to go along without mishap; and why presidents these days can't just act presidential.

There is no normal.

Yes, driven by my daily email newsletter from Curiosity.com, I've been skulking around that website again ... the website that more than once has caused me to say "Oh! So that's why things are the way they are."

"The way things are" is not to be described as normal.

"Ever felt like a total weirdo? Turns out, there's nothing weird about that at all," according to a story first posted on the site a bit over a year ago. "Feeling different is normal because there is no normal. In a 2018 study, Yale researchers confirmed what we've known to be true all along: Humans are just a bunch of freaks. And, fortunately, that's exactly the way it should be."

Well, now.

If you're like me, you've always seen "normal" as synonymous with "desirable" or "ideal" ... and, after tantalizing you mercilessly, it has nearly always stayed just beyond your reach. To add insult to injury, "normal" is probably something that others have taunted you throughout your life for not being.

Usually the unattainable normal has had to do with:

Looks. You were too fat. Too thin. Your eyes were too close together. Too far apart. Your hips were too wide. You had thunder thighs. Bird/bow legs. And, let's not get into hair.

Circumstances. And I could go on and on here. You didn't have the normal childhood (parents had a good marriage that lasted; you weren't lonely, shunned or bullied) or adolescence (you had a boyfriend/girlfriend, you had your own car, you went on great summer vacations with your folks or attended summer camps). You didn't have the normal early adulthood (you finished college on time, you landed a great job with fantastic pay and suffered no layoffs, you began a successful marriage and family). You're not enjoying the "normal" trappings of middle-age prosperity you see co-workers and high-school/college classmates enjoying (the big, nice home with the kitchen right out of HGTV, the luxury car, the vacations in Cabo, the jaunts to Paris, the European river cruises).

In every aspect of your life, in fact, you've felt like you were cheated plumb out of normal and that all you got was the flies without the ointment.

But a study whose results came in early 2018 "notes that there is no normalcy -- not for people, and not for people's brains," according to the story. The study was conducted by Yale researchers Avram J. Holmes and Lauren M. Patrick, and revealed in the publication Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Holmes and Patrick found that "'optimality in clinical neuroscience' is a myth ... and change, range, and variety is much more common -- normal? -- for life ... There is no universally optimal profile of brain functioning. The evolutionary forces that shape our species select for a staggering diversity of human behaviors."

I was led to ponder those Scriptures about us being "fearfully and wonderfully made" and about how we're all given different gifts and talents. Even the Good Book indicates that we're not all the same. We're not going to have the same experiences, and although there are laws and commandments we must all follow as far as our behavior on society and treatment of our fellows, it's like this article says: "there is no right or wrong way to [simply] be a human, and normal is a relative term that depends on time, place, and circumstance."

The writer might have added that the normal/ideal lives other seem to live might not be nearly as normal or desirable if we were to venture over to their side of the fence.

"Nobody is 'normal,'" wrote a wise sage at 7cups.com -- a website in which people can find online help from professional therapists -- in answer to the question "Why can't I be normal and happy like everyone else?" "It's a tricky word because it's extremely subjective. As is 'happy.' People might seem to you like they're much happier than you are. The truth is, everybody has their problems to cope with. Some people just don't show that."

So there you and I both go. There is no normal. And hey, if life had followed my idea of what that is, there'd have been a lot less to write about here.

Send that email where you normally would:

hwilliams@arkansasonline.com

Style on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: New normal means there is no normal

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