I’ve heard it said more often than I would like — I’ve even said it a few times myself amid one crisis or another. It’s the one thing most of us who deal with mental health issues wish for ourselves.
Think about it — when we aren’t trying to live up to everyone’s expectations or even our own — what is the thing we want the most?
“I wish I was normal.”
As I walked further into the mall, it felt like the mass of people were pressing in closer. I could smell them — cloyingly sweet perfume and garlic from lunch. Sweat clung to my forehead, and I wiped it away with the sleeve of my jacket — annoyed that my discomfort was visible to everyone else.
Hard to breathe. Chest is heavy. Mouth dry.
My hands shook with force, so I jammed them in my pockets, angry that the little boy next to me saw before I could hide them. As the panic swelled, my breathing came in gasps, and I felt light-headed.
This was going to be terrible.
I knew I couldn’t stay and finish my Christmas shopping. I should have known better than to try the mall when my anxiety was so strong. I fled back the way I’d come and quickened my pace enough to make me feel a little better, but not enough that people would notice my panic. I finally saw the sun streaming in the doors to the outside.
I shook my head and said to myself, “Why can’t I be a normal person?”
What is normal?
When they tell someone with mental issues to “get over it and act normal,” what exactly are they saying? Who in society should we study to see how to act? Is there a model we can follow, so we know when we have reached the point where we would be ordinary?
Many of us struggle with our illnesses, fighting against the pain to act in a way that people would feel comfortable dealing with us. It’s why most of us are so lonely. Either no one wants to begin to deal with our “crazy,” or they’ve grown tired of being near someone who brings them down all the time.
Loneliness is the reason that pockets of mentally ill people cling together on social media. It’s the reason we become so attached to each other in the halls of the mental hospitals, and why we never see each other again when released because we don’t want the “normies” to see us in the same room.
After all, we are the ones who are different, and if we want acceptance by society, we should conform and do our best not to act unusual in any situation. Right?
I call bullshit.
The people they want us to be is not what we want! We only think we want it because we tire of everyone telling us how to think and act. Most of us were born this way — why should we change?
If they are extroverted, we don’t ask them to be meeker. We don’t ask them to be less outgoing. No one would ever think to ask them to shut up because they talk too much — even though they do. We wouldn’t do those things because society accepts people who are naturally friendly and bubbly.
Why should we feel bad about ourselves if we are introverted and moody? Why do we have to appear as though we are positive all the time? Why can’t we let our emotions out when they occur?
Because they are uncomfortable.
If we see a man crying or showing any emotion, we call them a wimp. We fault women for being too emotional to do “men’s work.” We chastise people for being anything other than the norm. We laugh at teenagers who wear black, listen to dark music, and cling together in groups to protect themselves from average people.
Why? Because they make us uncomfortable?
Breaking the mold
It’s time for the different among us to come together and decide once and for all that we’ve had enough of trying to conform to society’s norms. Aren’t you tired of trying to be what everyone else wants you to be?
Who says we have to be like the people who try to make decisions for us? Do we really want to be like politicians, CEOs, religious leaders, rich people, and influencers on social media? Are they the norm we are trying to model ourselves after?
Who is normal anyway?
I know if we dig deep into the people who make the decisions about who is normal in society, they are much more broken inside than we are. Dig deeper, and you find the filth that drives them to try and exclude certain people from their sad lives.
Who are they that they should tell us who to be? Because they have money and power? Because they are the beautiful people with pearly-whites who always have a smile on their face?
It’s time we stop apologizing for being angry with the treatment we get from others who only want us to be quiet and hide from civilized people.
We are angry and tired of being who they want us to be.
Can you blame us for wanting to find our own way in life? Can you fault us if we want a piece of the pie no matter how angsty and miserable we are? This is our lives! Do they think we choose to be broken people? Do they think if we had it to do over, we would want the same things in life?
Yes, we act like we want to be just like them, but only because that’s what’s expected of us. They started insisting when they told us to stop crying so much when we were children. They made us act and dress a certain way so we can get jobs and make the rich richer. Some of us understand that they don’t like broken people because we take money out of their pockets.
Aren’t they scared that we know all they want is obedient workers who act and vote as they wish them to? The broken are worthless to them because we don’t want to conform to their ideal. They call us conspiracy theorists because we see through the veil they toss over everyone else.
We don’t want to be normal. Normal is boring. Normal is appalling. Normal is death to people who are different and aren’t afraid to show it.
This manifesto is for the abnormal people. They laugh because you are different and aren’t afraid to show it. Keep the faith. Already, the society we live in is changing. People are waking up to the evils of stigma, racism, toxic capitalism, misogyny, and classism. People are starting to see that normal is not such a good thing.
Be patient, but be strong in your resolve to not conform to the ideals that never kept us in mind.
Don’t conform. Stop trying to be normal.