“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.