What is Normal?

All teenagers are changing who they are in order to appear normal which it raises the question: what is normal?


St John of God Health Care

A collection of teenagers who are all dressed the same.

The main goal of a teenager is to fit in, not to stand out. To appear “normal” to the people around you. Yet the point of high school is for teenagers to figure out who they are before going to college, and one common piece of advice about how to do this is to stay true to yourself. So, why is it that a majority of high schoolers are changing who they are to fit in? If everyone is desperately trying to meet the expectation of normal, then wouldn’t that mean that everyone’s definition of normal would be the same?

Society pressures teenagers to think that they have to adhere to a stereotype: be pretty, handsome, beautiful, cute, etcetera. They think they have to adjust their interests to what their school or society deems to be “cool.” This issue is a cycle, everyone changing themselves to fit into a stereotype that does not exist while others compare them to an unattainable ideal.

If everyone is changing who they are in hopes of fitting in, then there is no overall standard to set. Teenagers assume that their definition of normal is correct, when in actuality everyone’s definitions are different. A person should alter aspects of themself because they want to, not because they think they have to.

By definition, normal means “the usual, average, or typical state or condition.” What I find ironic is that “average” and “typical” both have negative connotations and are used as insults, yet many strive to be labeled as “normal,” which is practically synonymous.

If there is anything I have learned in the past four years of being in high school, it is that people like you better when you’re being yourself. You want friends who like you for who you are, not for some facade you put up.

To any stranger walking by, I am a very weird person, but I do not regret how I act, laugh, or talk. I am who I am, and I am proud to be me; I wouldn’t have it any other way. When people first see and take a liking to me, I see it as a sign of trust. They’re indirectly saying, “I see how different you may be and the looks you get from people around you, but even still I want to be friends with you.”

What I find ironic is that ‘average’ and ‘typical’ both have negative connotations and are used as insults, yet many strive to be labeled as ‘normal,’ which is practically synonymous.”

— Kianna Koeppen

Never feel like you have to change. I know how it feels to want to alter who you are to fit in. I changed over time to fit a standard I set for myself. At first it was for the people around me so that they may finally see me as one of them, as an equal, but over time, I realized that what I should be doing it for self-fulfillment. I changed my wardrobe to feel better in my own skin. I grew out my hair to look how I wanted to look. I traded glasses for contacts because I wanted a change of pace. I have been told my numerous people that I have grown substantially “hotter” since I decided to change my looks, and I suppose that that’s true, but that’s not the main reason why I changed.

That’s what people should do: change aspects of themselves if they want to. Nobody should feel that they are forced to alter who they are to fit in because there is no reason to do so. A teenager should not feel the need to change who they are in order to fit in. Every teenager is comparing themselves to those around them, even unintentionally. It is an endless, fruitless cycle of wondering, changing, and waiting for the day you are seen equal. There is no point in changing yourself to fit in; be who you want to be and don’t let the people around you, or your personal fears of “not fitting in,” prohibit you from doing so.

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