The Redefinition of “Normal”


Somewhere in my lonesome junior school years, a saying found its way to me by accident, or should I say, in a very common and orderly way. It jumped out at me while I was reading a book whose name I have already forgotten.

Since I got most of my shallow knowledge from books, it didn’t arouse much excitement at that time. It was a phrase like this: “One significant sign of adulthood is realizing that you are normal and being happy about it.” There are many different ways of understanding this sentence. Grown-ups say that someday, we will settle down in some safe and warm place and be grateful for what we already have. The statement seems to support their idea. “Normal,” in their opinion, is settling down without dreams. However, dreams should always be pursued. “Normal” just means that when we grow older and more mature, we’ll still have a dream to fight for, only we will be more willing to work with other people.

In those young and vulnerable years of our early childhood, we sometimes viewed ourselves as the majestic leader of this society, the chosen one, and we would, undoubtedly, contribute good to this world. Nothing ordinary could possibly make us excited. And the word “normal” was probably one of the least desirable prospects for our future. Being “normal” was like being one of those bystanders in the middle of a world war who can only cry and scream and wait for their savior. We grow up believing that it is possible to change the world by relying purely on our own abilities. Our dreams reflected this way of thinking. On one of the Dream-of-the-Future cards we were asked to write in kindergarten, my childish handwriting shows that I used to dream of becoming a princess who had magical powers and protected the world from being gobbled up by vicious aliens.

When we were in the early stage of our lives, our dreams usually consisted of a grand setting, like the earth, and a series of serious problems, like aliens trying to take over the planet, and a hero — us. We grew up in a world filled with Spiderman, the Flash, and Captain America. All these heroes gave us the idea we could save the planet all on our own. We got ideas from unrealistic sources and added the elements we read or saw to our own dreams, perfecting them on the stage of fantasy. A friend of mine once told me that she got the idea to join an ancient tribe in the jungle after reading several books on the subject, and that her greatest desire at that time was to ride a tiger through the jungle while wearing a dress made of leaves. This phenomenon reveals that we do not have a clear sense of our true abilities.

As time quickly slipped away, we gave up trying to be the one to save the human race and began thinking about how we could make this race a better one after reaching adolescence. Now, in this stage, there are a lot more options for us to choose from, such as becoming a scientist, doctor, or an artist. In our teenage years, we try to change the world for the better, instead of saving it from some unearthly creature. The cheers and applause for our unique success often haunt us in our dreams. We want success for ourselves and hope that society will remember us and us alone for our dedication. Our dreams are often marred by our desperate desires to succeed. Normal means dull and unexciting, and if we were normal, we would just be nobodies in society. People wouldn’t know our names and we would not stand out in any way, and that’s just terrifying.

Nevertheless, schools and teachers seem to care more about our grades than our dreams. Our parents and other grown-ups don’t usually take our dreams seriously, either. Some say they are just fantasies for children. Children are somehow blind to all the evils and difficulties in this world, and their arrogance and optimism are the clear marks of their age. Some say that things will change a lot when we grow up, and that we will see things in a different way then.

What kind of different way? According to some novels that are quite popular nowadays, a different way means to lower your expectations of yourself. You have to realize that you are of average intelligence, average-looking, and a whole lot of other averages. And the truth is, an average person like you and me just isn’t likely to be rich and famous in the future. At least, this is what they say you are supposed to realize on your long and troublesome path of growing up.

In my opinion, however, the process of growing up should be a process of trying to fulfil our dreams. Beethoven loved music from a very young age. To the young Beethoven, music was a dream full of wonderful things that could bring him happiness and warmth. When he grew up, though he suffered from poor hearing and disease, his passion for music remained. For adult Beethoven, music was no longer a kind of comforting fantasy, but the source of willpower that helped him to stay strong. He practiced playing the piano with shocking diligence, and ideas came along with hard work. He was able to add melodies to accompany his personal struggle and unforgettable experiences, mixing them into a wonderful symphony. Adulthood means more ideas, more energy, and more opportunity to make our dreams come true. The only difference is that when we grow up, we will be more willing to cooperate. We will be willing to discuss a matter with other people, perfecting our own ideas by listening to other people’s opinions. Growing up does not mean settling down without a dream and passion. This state of life is not what I call “normal.” It would be laziness and cowardice.

The “normal” in the sentence “One significant sign of adulthood is realizing that you are normal and being happy about it” should mean moving into adulthood and no longer wanting the credit for ourselves. One day, it will occur to us that we all belong to one society and every one of us is essential to it. We will begin to realize other people’s brilliance and will be happy to work alongside them, giving each other support. “Normal” should mean that someday, as adults, we will be fully intact within this society, absorbing energy and warmth from it to support our own career, just like every other living soul. “Normal” should mean that when we are full of knowledge and wisdom, we will not brag or show off. Instead, we will appreciate what other people have done for us. For without this society and every living soul in it, it would be impossible for us to achieve anything.

For everything we have accomplished, we owe some credit to others. We can easily detect this point from the Harry Potter series. Although Harry was the “Chosen One” and the only person who had ever survived Voldemort’s killing curse, his power was nothing against Voldemort himself and his army of Death Eaters. It was Ron and Hermione and thousands of others who put their faith in Harry and helped him along the way that let him finally overcome Voldemort. Voldemort took advantage of those who worked for him instead of viewing them as his friends. He took pride in the fact that he had no friends and didn’t need any. He didn’t cherish the value of cooperation and in the end suffered an ultimate failure.

We once had to do a music project in school. Having been in a chorus for three years and loving to sing, I was hoping that this would be a chance for me to win glory. However, after I decided to share my idea with my friends and discuss it, we managed to come up with tons of interesting thoughts. In the end, we displayed our project as a group and won first prize. As I stood on the stage among my friends, I suddenly understood the true meaning of “normal.”

“Normal” doesn’t mean living without a dream, it means that we will be more willing to cooperate with other people and learn from others. Adulthood is when our perspective will be more diverse because we are willing to work with other people and learn from others. By no means do words like laziness and cowardice associate themselves with the most important state in life, adulthood. There will be difficulties and obstacles on the path of growth, but it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow, we will run faster, stretch our arms a little longer, and someday, we will reach our goal alongside thousands of people who have supported and are still supporting us.

Yifei Wang is a 15-year-old Chinese girl studying at Nan Hua High School, Singapore. She enjoys reading books, listening to beautiful melodies, and showing her mind in her own writings if she can spare time from her piles of homework. As a big fan of the Harry Potter series, she dreams of turning into J.K. Rowling in the future.

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