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Each of us is our own brand of ‘normal’

The phrase “be normal” has been around for quite some time.

I heard it often in context with something I did or was doing. If I talked too loud, or when I did get carried away by singing to myself in the grocery store, I was told to “be normal.”

I understand that “be normal” really means to “act normal.” It’s basically a phrase that can be used as a reaction to a wide range of strange (and sometimes not so strange) behaviors from others.

It can be used for anything from a minor infraction of an unwritten social rule, to the kind of truly crazy behavior that might get you admitted to that special ward. Because of that, it was not always easy to understand why someone was shouting at me unless I was doing something really weird, in which case they were probably right, and I should have stopped.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the phrase truly means “stop being weird and act normal.” But then again, the true meaning may go a lot deeper. After all, one person’s “not normal” might be another person’s “normal.”

The majority of people think of themselves as being down-to-earth, realistic, calm and straightforward. It’s too bad that in reality, all of them are just as crazy as the rest of us.

A parent can say “be normal” to their child if that child is misbehaving or acting moody. However, that same child also could say it to his parents if those parents are being uncool and embarrassing in front of his friends

It’s a phrase with a lot of flexibility. A stranger on the street might say it to you if you are acting weird in public.

For example: dancing through the street dressed head to toe in novelty Independence Day clothing on any day other than Fourth of July. After all, timing is everything.

A friend may say it as a way of telling you to pull yourself together if they think you are overreacting to something or getting too emotional. Sometimes you may receive a “be normal” for expressing a weird opinion, especially if that opinion is considered very non-normal, like suggesting it is a good idea to wear rubber knee boots onto the dance floor.

Basically, it can be anything that the other person in the conversation deems weird, abnormal, embarrassing, unnecessary or rude behavior.

“Be normal” may be only two words, but it often is said with a lot more. It’s a way of saying: “You may not be embarrassed, but I am” or “behave yourself,” “stop messing around,” “stop being loud” or even “pull yourself together.”

So to be “normal,” is just a simple case of being proud but not boastful, confident but not loud, calm but not boring. Be creative without overcomplicating things, a nice person without being a pushover.

Most of all, you have to act normal, and sometimes that means acting crazy if the situation calls for it.

Most people like things to be normal. They want everyone to behave appropriately and with the correct level of maturity for the given situation. They don’t want things to be more complex or difficult than they have to be.

There is a longer version of the phrase that says, “just act normal, then you’re acting crazy enough.” However, I say, “keep smiling and act like everything is going according to plan.”

Tony Antonides lives in Central Point.