The Myth of Being Normal


(Picture: Ioa Bacon via Creative Commons)


Normal. It’s a word we use with great regularity. Often about people. And even more often, talking about ourselves, our circumstances or people we know in comparison to others. Do any of these phrases sound familiar?


“Why couldn’t I have a ‘normal’ upbringing?”


“Why can’t you eat like a ‘normal’ person?”


“Why do I have epilepsy? Why can’t I be ‘normal’?”


“Why am I not married like ‘normal’ people my age?”


“Why can’t I have a ‘normal’ life?”


When we use the term ‘normal’ in these contexts we’re usually talking about people whose life is better than ours. People who seem to have life easy, happy, and simple. Whose parents don’t divorce. Who don’t lose a family member at a young age. Who don’t grow up in abusive households. And who don’t suffer from some serious ongoing medical condition. These people generally have the perfect upbringing, which has conditioned them well and left them mature and stable people. They are the ones whose lives go as our lives were ‘meant’ to go.

People who fit into societal norms for a happy, successful life. Normal.

Except it’s all a lie.

Yes, there are people out there who appear to have this kind of upbringing, everything going for them and no real major disasters in their life.

But normal?

I’m not sure God does normal. I don’t think the word is in scripture at all.

Normal is fictional story society writes for us. A box we’re meant to fit. And it’s a myth  (you can tweet that here)

Society or culture decides for us what is “normal”. Which is pretty much what I described. The consumer dream, or even the American dream. And we all delude ourselves into thinking everyone else is ‘normal’ and we’re not.

Truth is, we all have issues. We all have insecurities (as I discussed in this earlier post), and things don’t always go well for any of us. My guess is the people who suffered less when they were young, are just better able to cover up their insecurities, fears and doubts.

But they still exist. And I’m pretty sure a lot of them don’t think they are normal.

I mean, which of us thinks we’re ‘normal’? And what do we mean by it? Do we mean we conform to what the majority do? Because I don’t ever see that value in scripture.

Jesus certainly wasn’t normal. He never conformed to what the majority wanted. He stood up for the values of God no matter what. He didn’t have to fit in, because He knew He already belonged where it mattered.

All of us are created uniquely by God. None of us are the same. Genetically, and in our circumstances. Yes, there are many similarities – enough to group us into different types – but we’re all different.

And it’s often what makes us less “normal” which defines us. Our gifts. The unique circumstances which make us who we are.

My Mum died when I was 23. Not what people would call ‘normal’. And you’d be perfectly reasonable to think I would go back and change it if I could. I used to think that way.  But with the benefit of time, I can look back now and see how it shaped me, how it impacted my life.

How God used the worst moment of my life for transformation and growth.

I miss my Mum every day, and I love her dearly. She is part of me in so many ways. But I wouldn’t be who I am if she had stayed with us. And although it wasn’t “normal” it was a defining moment in my life.

None of us are normal. We’re special. We’re unique. We might be similar, but we’re not normal. God didn’t create us to be normal.

Whatever our circumstances have been, there is still hope. Death, pain, suffering never has the last word. But God can use these, and all the things we believe make us ‘not normal’, to shape us into who we were created to be.

It’s time to let go of the normal myth. To realise normal doesn’t exist. And once we realise there’s no such thing as normal, it sets us free to be ourselves. And accept ourselves how we are.

Because none of us are normal. We’re all unique.

And that’s exactly how it should be.




Do you agree with me or disagree with me? Is ‘normal’ a myth?

Have you ever wished you were ‘normal’?

How would it feel to know you don’t have to be ‘normal’? 




Let me know in the comments below!



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  1. lisajey on September 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Colorful is the new Normal… that’s what I think! 🙂 Great post James!

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks Lisa Jey, appreciate the encouragement. And totally agree!

  2. Luann Robinson Hull on September 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    thank goodness there is no real normal! I’d be in trouble! LOL

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Great comment – totally with you there! 🙂

  3. Devani Anjali Alderson on September 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    You’re so right James. The thing about ‘Normal’ (and even ‘Weird’) is that it’s all relative according to what the individual thinks ‘normal’ is…

    You might think that friend or co-worker has the life, but if you’ve never really bothered to ask or learn about what they go through you have no idea… and they may think the exact same thing about you… that you’re the one with the ‘normal’ life.

    So I completely agree … normal is one of the biggest myths out there. Because, what is it really?

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks Devani, totally agree with your comments – normal is relative to what we think normal is. Normal is….well, a myth. Thanks again.

      • Devani Anjali Alderson on September 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        I find it interesting you published this post today, because I was talking with someone just last week about this exact thing …. we were both having a conversation about what was normal and what wasn’t and how you even classify it, we both agreed there was no such thing as normal 🙂 … so interesting timing !! I was even considering blogging about it but seems as if you beat me to it 😉

        • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm

          Wow, amazing. I wrote this last week and very nearly didn’t publish it today. How bizarre is that! 🙂

  4. Mike Loomis on September 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Great post, James. I’m working on letting go of “normal.” It takes a while… is that normal?

  5. Marc on September 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Good thoughts James, I would say that normal is about societal expectations and that everyone’s weird is someone else’s normal!

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Absolutely Marc, completely agree with you. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Elyse Salpeter on September 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    My son is autistic and we once heard another autistic man make a comment on tv that we loved “Weird and quirky is the new normal.” We kind of embraced that. Nice post.

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks Elyse, appreciate you sharing that. Thanks for the comment & encouragement.

  7. Joan on September 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    James, I agree. I don’t think there is any such thing as “normal”. Everyone, no matter how they were raised, has issues. Many do a good job of appearing “normal” but in reality they are the ones who are probably suffering the most.

    Great post!

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks Joan, really appreciate it. Glad you agree with the post, and I totally agree with you comments.

      • Joan on September 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm

        Thanks, James. I was also young when my parents died–I was 21 when Dad died and 30 when Mom died.Still today, I sometimes look at friends who still have their parents and think, “what if…” I don’t know why we all tend to play the comparison game.

  8. Anne Peterson on September 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Loved your post. And the word “normal,” does make it difficult at times. It makes us want to compare ourselves to see if we somehow measure up. I remember when I had my daughter. She was just 3 1/2 pounds. Every time I took her to the doctor I came home feeling like a failure. It wasn’t until the doctors started using a different form of measurement, a premature baby chart that I felt better. Every time we feel “less than,” we need to ask ourselves than WHO?

    You lost your mum when you were 23. You said it was a defining moment, and that it made you who you are. I agree. I lost my mom when I was 16. And for all practical purposes that’s when I realized I was really alone. You can’t go through major life issues and come out as if you hadn’t.

    We don’t know what other people have been through. And yet, it does shape them into who they are. I appreciate the post, James.

    It says in scripture that God used the foolishness of the cross to confound the wise. Jesus never tried to fit any charts. He didn’t have to. Once we accept God’s sacrifice, we no longer have to either. We are new creations and the old has passed away. We’re new.

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      A great comment Anne, thanks so much for sharing this. Really wise words and totally agree. Thanks for commenting and the encouragement too, really appreciate it.

  9. Joy Lenton on September 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    You are so on message here, James. I totally agree that ‘normal’ doesn’t really exist and is a societal myth we have bought into. We all have issues, problems and challenges that shape and define us. Many of our experiences may be common to others, but we all have our own way of adjusting to the curve balls life throws at us and no two set of circumstances are completely identical either.
    I love how you bring the radical nature of Jesus as Messiah into the equation too. He confounded public expectation and opinion in a big way! As a man with a mission to do the Father’s will, He was single-minded in defining a new way for mankind to relate to God and showing us the right way to live as well, thus advocating a radical change of heart and lifestyle.
    God makes originals. He throws away the mould after each one of us is created. We are all unique and special to Him. Even identical twins usually have slight differences in looks and may be completely varied in their personalities, attitudes and interests.
    Rather like seeking perfection, being ‘normal’ is overrated and largely unattainable – depending on the norms one is seeking to advocate of course. There may be categories that we fall into and others we have no wish to be part of.
    Let’s aim to be original, unique, a one-off, celebrating our diversity as a strength instead of perceiving it as a weakness. Here’s to a life less ordinary, made extraordinary by God’s grace. Thank you for this insightful post!

    • James Prescott on September 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Another great comment Joy, full of wisdom and insight, totally agree with you. Thanks for this and again for all the encouragement. The ‘what it means to be human how God made us’ idea is really part of the theme of this blog…and possibly might be a book. This post has definitely given me an idea for a follow up post and potentially a manfiesto, e-book or even book. Very exciting!

  10. Sarah on September 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    my husband died nearly 3 years ago, leaving me a widow at 42 and my two boys then aged 13 and 10 without a dad so I know all about not being “normal”. This has given me a lot to think about, I don’t think I’ve ever really defined things in quite the same way before – thanks

    • James Prescott on September 3, 2013 at 7:48 am

      Sorry to hear of your loss Sarah, thanks for being brave enough to share your story. Glad the post spoke to you, and thanks for commenting.

  11. VMWH on September 3, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Average is a better term than Normal. Either median or mean is an average with people on both sides a center point. No two humans are alike, not even identical twins. And the nice thing about average is that nobody is held to the “average” account the way we are often held to the “normal standard.”

    • James Prescott on September 3, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Absolutely, completely agree with you. Thanks for your comment, really appreciate it.

  12. Dave Arnold on September 3, 2013 at 2:33 am

    Good stuff James! I completely agree, and it’s a topic I’ve written about myself. Normality is such a lie. Glad you share this – a much needed remider!

    • James Prescott on September 3, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Thanks for your comment & the encouragement Dave, really appreciate it.

  13. Onisha Ellis on September 3, 2013 at 4:22 am

    The concept of normal is valid in reference to daily life.For instance a normal work day. I think we all need a certain amount of structure that normal gives us.One person’s normal is another’s chaos.

    • James Prescott on September 3, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Precisely the point – there’s no single ‘normal’, there is only what is ‘normal’ for each of us. And we’re all different. Thanks for the comment Onisha.

  14. Maria Morgan on September 3, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Absolutely agree! “Normal” would be defined differently by everyone you asked. I love the way God uses situations in our lives to prepare us to minister to others. The difficulties you’ve faced have shaped you and no doubt have allowed you to reach out to those who are going through similar things. And I know God has gifted you with the ability to encourage others! Keep using that gift! God bless~

    • James Prescott on May 26, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks for your encouragement Maria – so appreciate it (and sorry for the late response!)

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  25. Ronnie Smith on May 26, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    It’s kind of crazy how this post ties into what I just blogged about. Kind of a confirmation. Thanks! 🙂

    • James Prescott on May 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      You’re so welcome Ronnie, really glad the post resonated with you. Great to hear others having the same insight!

  26. Andy Mort on June 1, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Very well said, James!

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