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The Daily Vulnerable by Chude Jideonwo: Normal is a Loaded Word



You want to be normal, right?

And normal means have a job people understand, have a body as flawless as in science textbooks, have a wife or a husband and two kids. You want to not be a child of divorce, have a mother who speaks perfect English and siblings who don’t embarrass you in public. You want to be so mind-numbingly normal that no one can mistake you in a crowd.

Why would you want to be that? And why would you be sad that you are not like that?

Why would you want to be something called ‘the perfect weight,’ have ‘the perfect car,’ live in ‘the perfect city’ or have ‘perfect children’?

That’s not normal, in fact. Look around the world – it’s full of different colours, different realities and different shades.

To say you want to be normal is a deception – it’s to pretend that there is any such thing; a standard of living that’s solely legitimate and to fall below that standard is to be something undesirable as a human being.

To say you want to be normal is to be dangerously lacking in compassion. People live in poverty, people live with disease, people live in villages. People live lives that you wouldn’t consider normal. Are you saying that their existence is not legitimate because it’s not your idea of perfect?

And finally, to say you want to be normal is to delegitimize a wide range of experiences beyond your imagination and to create a picture that will enslave you – because you will only be happy if and when you have that picture, and if you don’t, then you don’t think you have a right to exist or to be happy.

If you have a broken leg, that’s you, that’s legitimate, that’s life. If there is a surgery that can change that and you can afford it, that’s legitimate, that’s life. If you can’t, then your life as it is is already full and legitimate, and you can be joyful and love yourself just as you are.

Normal is a meaningless thing driven by fear of the unknown and fear of the new. You are you, however you were made, and however you are now.

Accept the reality, stop wanting to be like others, especially if you can’t become the thing you want, and focus on becoming the best version of what you already are.

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Jideonwo is a storyteller, using the research and evidence on human flourishing to inspire new narratives about politics, markets, faith, identity and society in Africa. He is a co-founder of RED, which he ran for 13 years before stepping down in December 2017. One of its companies, StateCraft Inc. handled communication for the Muhammadu Buhari campaign in 2015 and has worked in elections in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

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