Such mixed feelings…

“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.” – Aunt Frances, “Practical Magic”

I should probably confess that I’ve never actually seen Practical Magic, nor do I know anything about it. I have no context for that quotation. All I know is that someone posted it to facebook a while back, and I got all sorts of twisty-turny mixed-up feelings in response.

So apparently I still have mixed feelings when it comes to the concept of “normal”. In the past it was all about being torn over wanting to be normal vs. taking pride in being me. I’m no longer so attached to changing who I am in order to be like everyone else, but still… something about that quote bothered me.

I wasn’t sure why at first. I mean, at this point in my life I take pride in not being normal. I’m not like other people and yeah, that’s a mixed bag, but I like who I am and I’ve forged myself an identity around the fact that I’m different. As far as I could tell that quote is agreeing with the whole idea of taking pride in not being normal… right?

Then a couple words stood out. “Virtue” and “courage.” And then I realized – it was treating “being normal” or not as a choice. As something we could do or not do, depending on what we wanted. And that does not, in the least bit, reflect my reality. From my perspective, way over here, if you get to choose to be normal or not, if it takes courage for you to not be normal, then you’re normal. And that’s ok, it’s not like there’s anything wrong with that.

I’m not normal. I’ve never been normal. There’s nothing courageous about this fact; virtue or lack thereof simply does not apply. Maybe there is some courage in embracing who I am, but not in simply being who I am. Every day I wake up, and I’m not normal. I go about my day, being not normal. I go to bed as a person who isn’t normal. It takes no thought or effort or courage, because this is simply who I am.

And quite frankly, being described as “courageous” simply for existing smacks a little too much as inspiration porn. I would love to be inspiring if I, at some point, do something amazing, but I don’t want my basic existence to be so. I don’t want to be objectified like that.

Maybe I just have a weird perspective. It isn’t about choice for me, so I see “normalcy” as an intrinsic thing, since the autism stuff is intrinsic. When you make it into a choice, you take me out of the equation entirely – my reality no longer has bearing on your worldview. I don’t want to be made irrelevant.

Maybe I should just try to find some nice quotations about the courage to embrace who you are. That might be nifty.

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4 Comments

Filed under opinion, personal

4 responses to “Such mixed feelings…

  1. PK

    I’m not sure if that’s the full quote (I’ve seen the movie, but not in a while – I like it, actually). The main characters are 2 sisters, decendents of witches – the power runs in the family. There’s a curse attached re. finding true love (too much back story to get into). One sister “owns” and enjoys her power, the other resists it because 1) it caused her pain, 2) it makes her “different” from everyone else except her family. She keeps trying to be “normal”, but she can’t hide who she is completely, she can’t be someone else, and she doesn’t ever quite “fit”. She DOES have friends who get her, but of course, most people don’t. In the end, good stuff happens – she embraces her power, accepts herself, and the townsfolk, once they really understand, enjoy her family for who they are.

    I think the quote doesn’t quite sum up what’s going on in the movie, but now I have to watch it again from the perspective of the autism spectrum… thanks for this!

  2. PK

    I’m not sure if that’s the full quote (I’ve seen the movie, but not in a while – I like it, actually). The main characters are 2 sisters, decendents of witches – the power runs in the family. There’s a curse attached re. finding true love (too much back story to get into). One sister “owns” and enjoys her power, the other resists it because 1) it caused her pain, 2) it makes her “different” from everyone else except her family. She keeps trying to be “normal”, but she can’t hide who she is completely, she can’t be someone else, and she doesn’t ever quite “fit”. She DOES have friends who get her, but of course, most people don’t. In the end, good stuff happens – she embraces her power, accepts herself, and the townsfolk, once they really understand, enjoy her family for who they are.

    I think the quote doesn’t quite sum up what’s going on in the movie, but now I have to watch it again from the perspective of the autism spectrum… thanks for this!

  3. iohannkn

    Andraya – I second your reaction to the quote. It’s not a choice; it’s a question of coping. The movie’s context is “better to be supernatural than just natural”; but our context is different – will we nill we, we’re not normal, and the normals don’t understand that – even the positive helpful ones. I enjoy your blog; thanks.

  4. I’d like to offer a different perspective on that quote. Every single one of us at some point tries to “be normal”. We all want to fit in or find acceptance in one way or another. We try to change who we are to get friends, or to be accepted in our work place or to avoid being teased or bullied, or to find someone to love us. No matter who we are it takes courage to stand up to the tide and say “No thank you, I’m going to be me because I like who I am and I have value.” It soon becomes easy to do that, but the first few times, especially when you are younger and peers or first loves are so incredibly important to you, it takes quite a bit of courage to go against the flow and become an individual. Of course, as you grow in this new reality that you don’t have to be just like everyone else, you begin to realize that you are the inspiration that helps all those around you to find the courage to stand up and be themselves too. It’s not about choosing whether or not to be normal, it’s about choosing to define for yourself what normal is and to be ok with that. The reality is, that normal is vastly varied. Normal is that we are all different. We all have quirks and fears and talents and skills. I have a t-shirt that says “If we all sang in the same key, there wouldn’t be any harmony.” Normal is all those differences that create the harmony that is the song of life, and the courage is in not trying to force yourself to sing in a key that isn’t yours. Anyways, that was my take on that quote. Some other fun quotes about being normal: “I tried to be normal once, it was the worst two minutes of my life!” “I don’t want to be normal, normal is boring.” It’s so true. It’s far more fun to just be yourself instead of trying to be who you think you are supposed to be. ;0) Keep up the good work. I love your blog!