Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Land of Normal

Illustration by Gary Larson
Last Fall we had a new student join our homeschool classes. We hosted these classes once a week for youth ages 12 and up in our home. It was a great way for our youth to learn with other like-minded teens who value similar things like family, reading books, high standards, lots of studying, etc..

This particular young lady was not only new to our classes, but she was new to homeschooling. She had had a rough time in Middle School, and had begged her mom to bring her home. She was a beautiful girl, and very smart, but she really struggled in our classes. She seemed to focus a lot on her appearance, she was always on her phone texting, and she continuously complained about-- well, everything. She was a quintessential teenager.

One day, the dozen or so youth in our Shakespeare class were having a lively discussion and this young lady in frustration flung out the sentence "Ugh! You guys are so WEIRD!"

The other students blinked, looked at her in amazement, and said with smiles, "Yeah, we know."

She was shocked. Here she was, delivering one of the greatest insults in all of normalcy, and those "weird" kids were taking it as a huge compliment!

She quit after the first semester, and we've never seen her at any other homeschool gatherings-- I'm assuming she went back to school where she can feel "normal" again.

Like the "weird" students in my class (four of which were my own children), I've come to feel that being called "weird" is actually a compliment. I grew up in the Land of Normal, constantly comparing myself to my peers, whether it was in my appearance, my intelligence, or my abilities. Though I wanted to "fit in" and be accepted, I never felt that I ever measured up to what I "should be." I was told I was too loud and obnoxious, not smart enough, and definitely not thin or rich enough.

The battleground youth face every day creates a trail of broken hearts that rarely heal into adulthood. I know; I've been there! It's sad, because coming to accept myself as I am has taken me years and years-- and it continues on.

BUT, it has been so refreshing, so cleansing, so freeing to stand up and say, "I am going to try something different. And I DON'T CARE WHAT THE LAND OF NORMAL THINKS!"

Ahhhh. (Feels good!)

The Land of Normal is a very comfortable place for most people to stay. But where has normalcy actually brought us as a society? To materialism, body obsession, debt, ignorance, and down-right denial about the state we're in. (Heaven forbid we ever do something "weird!")

The citizens of the Land of Normal frequently shake their heads at me, my family, and my friends and all our "weirdness"-- some even giving me helpful advice like "You're crazy!" or "I'm really worried about your kids," or "What about the prom?!"

I'm finally okay with who I am-- that I'm "WEIRD." Remember, I think being called "weird" is a huge compliment.


  1. I LOVE this post, Rachel! It speaks the thoughts of my heart and soul! =) I love and respect you and your wonderfully "weird" family, and hope that my family can be as "weird" as yours, someday! =) Your "weirdness" makes you wonderful! =D

  2. :), I wished I lived closer to you Rachel. I'd bring my "weird" family over to visit and we'd have a wonderful time! I enjoyed this post!

  3. Ahhh, being wierd is so awesome! I haven't ever been normal and I embrace my wierdness all the way.

    This was a great post. (I finally added you to my reader so I hope to actually get caught up on you...I love your posts @ LDHS so I am excited to read more of your personal blog)

  4. I have always taken “weird” as a complement. (weird, huh?) I was once told (but I have not been able to verify) that the etymology of weird is that something is so strange or unexpected, it must be from the gods. I kinda like that even if I can’t verify it.

  5. So sad to hear you talk badly about this girl. She was brought into a very different situation than she is used to and was judged harshly. So sad!
    I will no longer read posts like this from your blog because of the way you talk so awful about the people you hung out with growing up. Being one of those awful people that corrupted you so badly, so sad to be judged so harshly by my own cousin and once friend.

  6. The truth is, everyone is weird. You just have to find the one person who is weird like you and marry them. :)

    My daughters are taking a Shakespeare class in SLC. This is our first year home schooling, but they do not think the home school kids are weird. They think they are better. My second daughter even said that she feels more social now because she is not worried about what all of the popular kids are thinking about her.

    I know that I still want to be like everyone else. But I fail miserably. I have 8 kids. I home school. I am a Mormon. I don't run marathons. My house isn't nicely decorated. etc, etc, etc.Sometimes it worries me, but mostly, I am happy to be me.

  7. I would love to rub shoulders with more weird people so we don't feel so alone sometimes! I love our weirdness and I am grateful for my cave! ;) I love to point out the difference between "normal" and "common." :D

  8. Thanks for understanding, ladies!

    Tylynn, I LOVE this student of mine, and I did everything I could to help her. But in the end, it was all too out of her comfort zone for her, and I do think THAT'S sad. We all tried to give her acceptance and support-- she just didn't like our brand of it, I guess. No one was ever unkind to her. She just took offense to the idea that it was okay to be different. I think it really frightened her. :-(

    To me, the Land of Normal is not about relationships-- I am so grateful for the relationships I had with good friends, like you. I see the Land of Normal as the system of life that pushes conformity on everyone, that makes The World the end-all, be-all authority and goal for everyone.

    BUT WE'RE NOT ALL THE SAME. And the System crushes those of us that don't conform.

    I'm not even talking about High School-- I'm talking about the reach that the system still has on all of us, because it was ingrained in us, pounded in us, forced on us.

    And I reject it. I can't waste my life and my time trying to please others. I am doing all I can to please my heart and what I feel Heavenly Father wants me to do. There is not room in my life for worrying about fitting in. That ship has long sailed, and I am happy to see it go.

    I am happier deciding for myself WHY and HOW I want to do things. I simply don't accept the status quo answer to everything. And sometimes the conclusions I come to end up fitting in with normalcy! But I don't follow the normal answers for things, just because that's how everyone else does it. I've found too much joy, wisdom, hope, and peace in following what my inner spirit tells me.

    So, yes, I reject modern media. I reject most television, pop culture and movies. I reject public education, and routine epidurals, and absolute trust in experts.

    But I love and treasure my extended family, my old friends, the relationships that make life sweet. This isn't about rejecting you, or anyone else, Tylynn. It's about abandoning systems that suffocate and stifle who I am and who God wants me to be.

    Lots of love,

  9. We are outright rejected as "weird" by pretty much everyone in our local homeschool (biblical classical mindset), church, and town because we are not from the Midwest. They despise outsiders...period. I've also recently been called "quirky" by well-meaning acquaintances. Which is funny because I think THEY are quirky. LOL! My children are branded different, yet they think my kids are well-behaved, smart, funny, and what's the problem? I'm not sure. People still tell me I need to send my kids back to school.

    Tylynn, I don't know you, but I hope that you can see that defending one's position in society takes courage. This girl had quite a bit of courage to go against the "norm" of this kind of class with her statement. Rachel also has courage for defending her views in a public way like she does on this blog. It doesn't mean we have to agree, nor do we need to be offended by other people's views. We can just all be different!

  10. Did you ever read Leo the Lop. He tried to be normal. Normal is just so different for different people. I admire your seeking God's will and trusting that normal is not a set definition predecided by society but becomes what is needed by you, your family and those of like minds. Normal in my family is different than normal in my brothers family. We are each weird in our normal-ness. :)

    We need to always remember in whom we trust. It will then work out.

  11. When my 2nd son was about 12 he complained about being a called a geek. My oldest son, then about 14 said, "Well, we are, so might as well face it." And he went on to explain why we were all geeks: loving to learn, good at academics, constantly reading books, play chess. It was a wonderful conversation. I feel my 2nd son was helped more by his brother's comments than anything I could say. And I agreed with all he said.

  12. My children attend public schools so this will automatically make us "weird" on your site, but think it's wonderful that your children can accept who they are and embrace their differences as they stand up for what they believe in. It's a huge step for each of us.

  13. Hey, Allison-- just remember that "weird" is a compliment!!! ;-D

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment! :-)


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