Do enough internet searches on the web and you’ll realize everyone wants to know the answer to this simple question:
“Am I normal?”
Why do we strive so hard to fit into the norm? What makes being normal appealing instead of boring? And why is that we are willing to relinquish the unique gifts we’re born with in exchange for the status quo?
It’s a question I wondered myself and became more intrigued after reading O magazine article, “What’s So Great About Normal, Anyway?” In it, writer Christie Aschwanden interviews Better Than Normal author Dale Archer, MD about our cultural shift from perceiving psychiatric drugs as the last resort to the first line of treatment. Anytime we sway subtly away from what we consider normal (we’re too shy, too driven, too distracted), we assume we need a diagnosis and a drug to cure it.
While there are obviously individuals who should seek help, Archer says knowing the difference between someone who has mild traits of a mental illness and others who cannot function because of their symptoms is integral. It’s important for treating those who really need treatment and for those who may just need to learn how to embrace their harmless idiosyncrasies.
“When you’re always trying to conform to the norm, you lose your uniqueness, which can be the foundation for your greatness.” – Dale Archer, MD
If your symptoms begin to impinge upon your daily functioning, you should seek professional help. But if you’re just say, unhappy with how socially awkward you are or wish you were more focused, maybe it’s best not to jump the gun and drastically change who you are. Maybe the real cure is to accept what feels socially unacceptable and find the people who will love you anyway.