Monday, 10 December 2012

"I just wish I was normal."


I'd bet that most people reading this have said this at least once in their lives, usually without any understanding of what normal actually might be.

I've thought about what being normal is quite a bit over the years, because it seems quite normal to question whether or not oneself is normal.

Because I've had quite a lot in the way of education, I've come to understand normal (with respect to any given aspect of life) in a more mathematical sense than most people, I think. I generally sum it up as 'within two standard deviations of the mean'. Okay, so pull out your rusty statistics knowledge, while I explain that a bit. Or you could go look it up on wikipedia, because that would be faster and probably clearer.

The mean is what is generally known as average. That is, you take all the responses, add them up, and divide by the number of responses - that number you end up with is the mean. If you plot all the responses on an axis, you often end up with a Bell Curve. It's been noted for quite some time that a number of things - including human responses - tend to fall within certain ranges, and with some mathematical tricks, these are easy to quantify. About 50% will fall within one standard deviation, 90% within two standard deviations, and 99% within three standard deviations.

So when I say 'normal' I usually mean 'about 90% of the population'. Of course, the fact that I use numbers and mathematics quite consciously to define that puts me outside that 90%, I suspect.

I suppose it's all part of how I am very rarely normal.

I know that there's a lot of promotion of the idea that being other than normal is good, and you should try and stand out from the crowd, blah blah whatever. This kind of thing ignores the other side of outside normal - the negative side.

I've been known to describe my life as an inverse bell curve - that is, that I have amazingly awesome and shockingly awful things in my life, and not a hell of a lot inbetween.

On the amazingly awesome side, I have the dearly beloved, with whom I have just celebrated 11 years of happy marriage - and at age 31, that's definitely not normal. He loves me just the way I am - however that happens to be at the time. I'm unusually bright. I have had an enviable career. I have an unusually broad range of hobbies and interests. When I can exercise, I tend to be very, very good at anything involving patterned movement - which is what a lot of people find difficult to master, and have really fast muscle development. I've successfully lost weight. I read really fast. I've been elected to a community organisation without running a campaign. I've been relatively wealthy.

On the shockingly awful side, I have autism. I have Idiopathic hypersomnia. I had an astonishingly bad case of PTSD, the resolution of which allowed the idiopathic hypersomnia its day (turns out the anxiety was the only thing keeping me awake). I have a fullblown dairy intolerance. I'm allergic to paracetamol. I have spinal bone density distortions of the type that ends up as crush fractures before age 60. I have crazybad myopia for someone under the age of 90.

In the normal range, I'm female-bodied. I have blue eyes. I am 161.5cm tall. I am probably about an average weight - which is to say, overweight. I wear jeans and tshirts. I play computer games. I'm an Australian (this is probably no longer normal, as I live in London). I have one sibling. My parents are still together. I like cats. I don't have enough savings to buy a house, and I spend a fair amount of worry on money. I dislike housecleaning. I like tea, and wine, although not together. I've spent most of my adult life with a caffeine addiction. I have one piercing in each ear, in my earlobes. I've struggled with depression.

In the neither positive or negative but simply outside the normal range - I have an unusual configuration of bust and ribcage. I have unusually pale skin. I have amazingly narrow feet. I have tiny hands. I can hear up to 23 kHz. I have one and a half bachelor's degrees, in two utterly different fields, both technical. I'm a female with an engineering/IT degree. Before moving, I had an unusually wide social circle, and had an unusually high number of people I considered close friends. My hair is hip length and red - naturally.

I'd love to have a normal level of health, for instance. No unusual medical conditions, allergies, or intolerances. Hell, I'd settle for the idiopathic hypersomnia being under control to the point where I can work full time, maybe workout a couple times a week, and not burn out.

Most of the other normal stuff - troubled relationships, limited interests, lack of passion, children, dead end jobs - that I can live happily without. I am curious as to what it's like to live that way, but not enough to try and experience it myself.

Looking over what I've written, the only normals I really yearn for are physical. Which is probably pretty normal for someone with a chronic medical condition that impacts their physical day to day life.

In that sense, I guess, I've gotten what I wished for - I'm normal.