Square peg in a round hole: Why it is perfectly normal not to fit the norm

Norms… Sometimes I am under the impression that a lot of norms that exist regarding different aspects of life are just there to make us feel bad.”I don’t feel happy every day, what’s wrong with me?”, “My kid is 5 month and he doesn’t roll yet, what’s wrong with him?“, or “Oh, but my kid is almost two and he doesn’t talk yet, what’s wrong with him?“… Did somebody actually ever wonder if there is anything wrong with the norms?

I almost failed my physical education class in school because I could not run the 4000-meter torture that I was supposed to. I got 4 out of 10 (the last passing score) merely for my persistence. I ran the first 1000 or so meters and the rest I walked. I am no runner! Does it make me a failure? My daughter started rolling only at the age of 5 months. Only the lazy one did not ask me if I was not worried. I was not. She was physically in a perfect condition. She did not want to roll. Does that make her a failure? My son started walking at the age of 9 months. But that’s not normal! And what should I have done? Tied him to the chair?!

It gets worse. You should go to school, you should get a degree, you should get a job (and preferably in the same domain where your degree is), you should buy a house, you should get married, you should have a ring, a dress, a party for 200 people, you should go on the honeymoon to the fancy location at the sea, you should have kids before 30, you should lose weight  in the first 10 days after giving birth, you should have a career, you should have a dog/cat/hamster/horse/alligator… You should… Have a riffle to use every time you hear it? That would be a great idea.

I did not invent this quote but I like it:

All I should is enumerated in the Tax Code; all I should not – in the Criminal Code; all the rest is in my discretion!

I don’t believe in “shoulds”. I don’t believe in norms. And most importantly what I don’t believe in – is in being worried and feeling yourself down just because you or your kids don’t fit some stupid norm written by somebody. What I do believe in, however, is in respecting the choice of others that they made for themselves and their family. In the end you are the only one who knows what’s right for you.

You breastfeed until your kid is 2,5 y.o.? Good for you both! And you stopped at 6 months and your kid already eats steak at 1? Perfect! You chose to work and your kid goes to day-care? That’s fine. And you decided it’s best that you stay at home? Also great. You do Montessori and a whole bunch of other early development activities? Good choice. And you don’t believe in the value of an early development? You’re also right. You co-sleep with your little one? Super! But yours learned to sleep in his own bed since the beginning? Wow!

Bottom-line is: Universal “normal” applicable to everybody does not exist. Normal is defined by lots of factors, amongst which your unique life circumstances, but also your vision of the world, your attitude, your values and your perception. It is what you personally feel comfortable with and what is acceptable for your family, but not what somebody else tries to force on you.

And by the way all the great minds of the past and present were not “normal”: they did not fit, they challenged the norms, they rebelled against them and went their own way. They followed their own normal. They were square pegs in a round hole and that’s what in the end contributed to their greatness.

 

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10 thoughts on “Square peg in a round hole: Why it is perfectly normal not to fit the norm”

  1. Maria, it is a wonderful post. Thank you.

    However, what would you say if your child did not fit the norm in a sort of a disorder, say autism or developmental delay (ours is speech/language delay case with social interaction impairment). As a mom how would approach this in regards to other parents at school? Would you tell them that your child is different if he/she behaves differently? Or would you just decide not to tell anything?

    As a mother I for example accept my child as she is, but worry that her being different can make people be prejudiced and she would be excluded from parties, social activities etc and not building friendships. I know she would enjoy them, but not always is in line with what is going on. I suppose I do not want her to get hurt as it would take a long time for her to recover.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Anna! This is indeed a difficult question. I am no expert here as I haven’t ever been in the situation. What I hope to be able to teach my own kids is to accept other people irrespective of their differences and learn to see in others that inner light which everybody has. I don’t know how severe is the condition of your kid and how different the behavior is, so it’s impossible to judge. The only thing I can comment is that sometimes explaining to others helps to avoid wrong conclusions that people tend to make.
      I sincerely wish you and your precious little one to be surrounded by accepting and kind people!

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  2. Thank you.:). The child is high functioning (on her own wave, but no super strange behaviours) and is in a mainstream school so far. I just really started to wonder recently whether this whole socialisation thing is really so important or whether just letting her be they way she is and go to school without pushing friendships is the right way?

    Thank you for the kind wishes.

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  3. Nope! I don’t believe in “shoulds” either. Actually, it strikes me as a rather dangerous word. As long as children are being raised, some of adult age, the word “should” can stunt growth. In my opinion, we were put here to thrive, so down with any word that keeps that from happening.

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