Just What Is Normal, Anyways?

normal

I have the unique privilege of teaching teenagers, and on occasion, I am gifted with an opportunity to give these teens some insight into the world in which they live. We have all been told it is normal to have a partner – a boyfriend or girlfriend, when we are teenagers – and eventually go off and live happy lives in the careers we choose. However, when a teenager is questioning whether she is truly “normal”, or wonders if her parents will accept her as such, there is something decidedly wrong.

There’s nothing quite like the bloom of new love. There is a great deal of excitement and desire to sing the love out from the rooftops, and a young student was quite coy about talking about her new love with her friends who were curious about the person she was seeing. She would give her friends very cagey answers about who the boyfriend was, and ultimately told her friends that she was seeing someone who was transgendered. She grew tired of the teasing at that admission and finally told the class she was bisexual and seeing another girl. I then heard her say that her family would not think of her as “normal” for getting involved in a relationship with another girl.

It cut me deeply to hear that. I discovered I was bisexual a few years ago, and while I had wondered why this realization had not hit me previously, I could not imagine being any other way. While my humor was often quirky and I often made bad jokes, I was as normal as anyone else in today’s world.

I have always wondered why we always strive to be normal when we do not simply just try to be ourselves. I was told once by a dear friend that regardless of what I did, my friends would like me anyways, and it was likely the best thing I learned from a friend.  A century ago, it was “normal” for women to stay home with the children and not wear pants. Fifty years ago, artwork such as tattoos were deemed to be counterculture and therefore “abnormal”. Interracial relationships were also deemed as deviant from the norm, where many of us would not even blink at seeing an interracial couple today. Now, in spite of societal claims to the contrary, there are still many in the LGBT community who are afraid that their sexual preference will deem them abnormal, and there are still too many people who are living closeted and in fear that they will no longer be accepted.

The student was practically holding her breath, waiting for some sort of response from her friends about her revelation. A male student admitted that he was bisexual as well, but then quickly retracted his admission when his friends immediately hit him with shocked statements. The female student wanted so badly for her friends to see her as normal

I could see both students were flustered, and before I even knew the words were coming, I admitted to my own bisexuality. It was a moment of truth, for us both.  I had no idea how to put the female student at ease, so I reminded her of some key facts; namely, that she has red blood flowing through her and she has all the right parts that made her a girl, which meant she met the requirements of being normal.

It’s strange, the power a couple of words can have for someone who is struggling. It was really the first time that I realized there was so many of us – too many, really – that struggle daily and people do not say anything for a variety of reasons. Whether those reasons are reluctance to get involved or to even feel something for the other person, I do not know. I do know this: there is too much disconnection between all of us because we have gotten into a habit of hiding our true selves from everyone.

Who should define what is normal, anyhow?  Normal is highly overrated, some would say, and normal is something that too many still strive for.

Is something different bad or wrong? Unfortunately, we have forgotten that change may be a little scary, but it just means that something new is afoot. Someone’s sexuality is much the same thing – something new that many of us may not fully understand, but something that does not change the fundamentals of the person. Sexuality does not define a person; it’s just a dimension of an individual, and if we are to embrace ourselves as well-rounded, that’s one thing we have to accept.

We are no more or less normal because of our sexuality. In fact, normal is just an idea that we all think we need to measure up to, and the thought of that is now affecting our younger generations. If we want our kids to grow up feeling normal, we need to encourage them to be who they are without worrying about what other people think. After all, so long as they are good and decent individuals, sexuality won’t matter one bit.

Opinion by Christina St-Jean

ThinkProgress.org

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