I’m Not a Normal Girl

Okay, ‘ya got me, I’m not actually any kind of girl at all. But the first time I heard that song from Maggie Estep,’s 1994 album No More Mr. Nice Girl, I totally identified. I had felt like I was different than everyone else my whole life. You know, not “normal”.

It’s taken me the best part of the last 14 years to realize that I wasn’t imagining things. I’m not normal! And now that I finally know what that means, I’m pretty excited by it.

Sayeth the oracle known as Wikipedia: “In behavior, normal refers to a lack of significant deviation from the average.” Which brings us to… “In mathematics, an average, or central tendency of a data set refers to a measure of the “middle” or “expected” value of the data set.”

Not being normal seems horrible, because “they” tell you it’s horrible. But you know what they are? Average! Which sounds awful to me, but we needn’t pejoratize that term either. All that all of this means, mathematically, is that if we took a group of one hundred people and measured them according to Trait X, 85 of them would line up one way (“normal”) and 15 another (“not normal”). And while people think much more in terms of “good” and “bad” about this as it applies to personality, it’s really no different than when it applies to eye color or blood type.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently as I’ve been reading Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person (http://www.hsperson.com/ ). Her basic contention is that some people are naturally (get ready, this is shocking) more sensitive to external stimuli than other people. This being a minority trait, these people often feel overstimulated by the world, and react to it differently than the not as sensitive norm expects. On the positive side, these people are often the first to notice when things are happening, draw connections between disparate sources, and because they withdraw into themselves more, produce a lot internally.
Keeping this in mind makes my emotional and social life make sense in the same kind of way that suddenly realizing, “Duh, I’m left handed!” would make the world make more sense.

It’s also brought to mind for me having the same feeling over the last few years upon reading Sasha Cagen’s Quirkyalone (http://quirkyalone.net/ ) and Anneli Rufus’ Party of One: A Loner’s Manifesto (http://www.annelirufus.com/index.html ). It turns out there are a lot of us who aren’t like everyone else, and while it may not be normal, it is a different way of being with deep roots

So there you have it- I’m not a normal girl. Maybe you aren’t either. Don’t despair, because it can be fun. As Maggie Estep says:

I’m not a normal girl/ I don’t think I’ll ever be a normal girl/ But still/ I’m terribly popular

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