The other day a client told me, devoured by shame:
’A normal person would never stuff one’s face with chips straight from the pack. I’m sure you would never do such a thing.’
Yeah, right. Well, in my opinion, if you do stuff your face with chips then that would be the only way to do it: in secret, hiding from everyone somewhere in the closet, crunching happily and licking salt off your fingers. What other unhealthy ingredients do chips contain? Monosodium glutamate? Spices? You name it! And then lick those off as well! How else do you imagine eating chips? Would you suggest using a porcelain plate, a knife, and a fork?
But this is not really about chips. It’s about those mythical ’normal people.’
My clients talk about them all the time, and the things they say are quite contradictory:
Normal people don’t eat junk food. A normal person would never behave like I do. Or, conversely: Normal people don’t care about all those stupid diets and stuff. They don’t bark at their children, and they always engage their kids in learning activities.
A normal person would never live in such a messy apartment. A normal person would strain after a better life; he would socialize instead of staying indoors all the time. A normal person would never work for peanuts.
A normal person loves partying. A normal person doesn’t waste time and money on clubs; he only spends it on sports and books. A normal person would have made an advent calendar for his child. He would be able to afford a decent apartment. And he is fine with gangbangs. No, no, on the contrary, a gangbang is out of the question for a normal person.
A normal person doesn’t spend much time thinking about his looks, and yet he looks awesome. He jogs regularly. He speaks all known European languages. A normal person doesn’t have cellulite, he never sweats, he doesn’t go bald or get fat, and, surely, he can even eat steel nails.
He is especially successful when it comes to his emotional life. He always stays positive and never doubts anything. He is willing to take risks. He never yells at others. He doesn’t feel anxious, scared, or remorseful. He is never upset. No quarrel can hurt his feelings. He is invincible.
They say that a normal person would not feel awful a week after a falling-out with his father. Hmmm. Then how long would it take him to recover? A day? Half an hour? Five minutes? Oh, it just wouldn’t bother him at all? He would just smile and move on. He’d be ’bigger than that.’
When a normal person graduates, he already knows what his mission in life is. How come? God knows! As if by magic!
A normal person should know what kind of responsibility comes with parenthood. How can he know? How could anyone grasp something that serious just by reading books and listening to some random advice?
It seems to me that this normal person is a kind of mythical animal. A hybrid creature with a head of a cat, a tail of a horse, one of his legs is a crocodile’s and another is a chicken’s. And he loves eating steel nails.
Yet it makes no sense to explain these things to my clients. They don’t listen when I tell them that this creature doesn’t exist.
In fact, a ’normal person’ is just an outline that we fill with our own poisonous, pungent shame. We attribute all of the best characteristics to a ’normal person’: he is perfect, he is infallible, and he is at liberty to do anything he wants. For crying out loud, he is at liberty to live!
And all that is left to us is being ignoble and miserable. We want to make ourselves as small as possible and disappear, dissolve…
We could talk about narcissistic personality disorder in the modern world, but let’s leave that for another time.
Sooner or later we come to realize that our consciousness plays cruel games with us. We should acknowledge the fact that none of us is normal. We all have hysterics, and we get anxious over the trifles; we make mistakes and have a hard time understanding their consequences. And sometimes we feel like jerks. Yet we are all normal.
There is only one thing you should do to become a normal person. An easy thing. A difficult thing.
You need to extend the boundaries of normality to include yourself.
Some normal people dislike parties. Some are annoyed by children, others by parents. Still others can’t live without sweets. But it doesn’t make them abnormal. There are normal people who bite their nails, fail, cry, and can’t overcome their anxiety. They don’t have time to make an advent calendar. They stuff their faces with chips straight from a pack.
They do the things we do. Because we are them. Most of the modern rules were not written on tables of the covenant. They were made up just recently, together with cellulite and the war against it. We are much more normal than those rules.
And maybe they aren’t worth the fuss.
Well. Initially I was just going to write about those chips, honestly!