Being Normally Weird, or Weirdly Normal

By: Hillary Schulman

“Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

One of the strangest yet most renowned artists in his day hit the nail right on the head. We’re all so obsessed about being “normal” and “fitting in” that we miss the beauty that abnormality brings. There are girls who are labeled as “basic” because they wear North Face jackets, leggings, and UGG boots, and drink Starbucks. It’s easy to fall into the “basic” trap because it’s what everyone else is doing, but where does that leave us?

Growing up, I went to the same school from kindergarten until 12th grade. Starting in 5th grade, my school decided to have a dress code for all students. This consisted of pants or shorts that felt like they were made of Teflon, a belt, and a polo shirt that came in many different colors with the school logo. Students also had to wear school-logoed outerwear if they chose to wear outerwear. The closest things to flip-flops we could wear (being in Florida, flip-flops were a staple footwear) were Birkenstocks, and they absolutely had to be closed-toe. Gone were the days of individuality and external expression. Everyone looked the same because we had to or else we got a detention.

When I got to college though, I thought it would be a whirlwind of styles and colors and opportunities for self-expression through clothing. Boy was I wrong. I was incredibly surprised at how many people were dressed in the same style, same color, same EVERYTHING – even though they didn’t have to. Now don’t get me wrong, there were definitely those who took advantage of their freedom of expression and diversified the throngs of polo shirts and khakis, North Faces, and UGG boots. But everyone looked the same. The strangest part of it, though, was that those who added that diversity were classified as “weird.”

Shouldn’t “weird” be “normal”? What exactly is “normal” anyway? Why do other people care if you do something that isn’t in their definition of normal? I used to be made fun of for the way that I ate my food. I know I’m not the only one who has specific ways they eat their food, but I also know that it isn’t normal. It’s just me, it’s what I do, and I’m okay with it.

We need to celebrate those who are “weird.” People develop certain stereotypes based on how freely they externally express themselves. Tattoos, piercings, dyed hair – it’s so different from our “normal” that it’s scary for others. But it’s their normal. Morticia Addams said it best – “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

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