What is normal? According to Dictionary.com: “Normal is conforming to a standard.” For a young girl, what is the norm? What is the standard that is normal? When I was 13, the normal was tight jeans, thick eyeliner and Justin Bieber, and you can say that I didn’t really fit in with that. I was never comfortable in jeans, I always poked myself in the eye with eyeliner and I just couldn’t really get in with Justin Bieber.
Now jump ahead 6 years, I have a sister who is 13 and her new norm is dating boys, wearing makeup and having a lot of followers on instagram. But she loves to read, her whole life revolves around the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series and it’s all she really talks about. She doesn’t date, she doesn’t wear makeup and she only has about 30 followers on instagram. When I noticed she really start to get into reading, I initially told her to take it easy with the books and to go out with her friends more. She told me she was more comfortable staying at home. Fast forward a month, and my sister comes home visibly upset. “They don’t get it. I’m happy when I read.” she told me. “They keep telling me that I’m weird and they aren’t going to be my friend anymore.” That’s when it hit me. Who is anyone to tell her that she’s weird for doing something she enjoys? “Reading takes me to another world. I imagine I’m a wizard at Hogwarts or I’m a camper at Camp Halfblood, it makes me happy.” I sat her down and told her to keep reading. Reading is very good for a young person’s mind and is really helping her widen her vocabulary and write really good stories.
I also have another sister who is 9. Pretty much the opposite of the first, a real thrill seeker and she’s extremely wild. She plays hockey and has been since she was 4. Being the only girl on the team (and the fastest skater!), she always stood out. This never really affected her until last year. She came up to me and asked if she could talk to me, but asked me not to tell our dad because he is her coach. She explained to me that she wants to quit hockey. She is an extremely talented player and you can tell how happy she is on the ice, so I asked her why she would want to quit and she told me about this new girl at school who is a dancer. The new girl at school saw that my sister’s legs were all bruised during gym class and made fun of her saying “They look like boy legs”. My sister explained to her that it was from playing goalie in road hockey, and that’s when everyone decided to poke fun. Telling her that girls are supposed to be nice, pretty and clean, not aggressive and loud. My sister was so upset she wanted to quit right there but I wouldn’t let her. She is very passionate about hockey and when I explained to her that she is just different from the girls in her class, and that it isn’t a bad thing because those girls are also different from each other.
What is this normal that everyone constantly wants to achieve? What would have happened if Martin Luther King Jr. decided to be a normal citizen and not fight for Black rights? What if Harriet Tubman decided to continue to be a normal slave and not lead many other slaves to freedom? In the words of famous poet Maya Angelou: “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” You don’t need to hide your likes, your passions, yourself from the world. Everyone is unique and it’s time for us to break this misconception of normal.