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At some point in my childhood, I picked up the phrase “why be normal?”

I hated this phrase.

There is nothing wrong with normal.

Normalcy is safe, and safe is not bad. Norms and customs have value, are important, are necessary (at least to an extent). Why would you rebel against shelter when it’s dangerous outside?

Normal is protective. Normal means protected. Normal means you don’t have to wonder if you’ll be picked up from school before it gets locked up, or if you’ll have dinner that night, or if your parent will feel well enough to get out of bed tomorrow, or come home next week.

Normal means you don’t silence your anguished crying pillow when you’re scared or angry or exhausted or all of these things because you’re too young to be so gut-wrenchingly distraught and you’re afraid of what reaction “that noise” might draw. Normal means you don’t have to slam doors repeatedly to redirect the screaming or at least find a brief reprieve of silence. Normal means you don’t have to hide out in your room pretending to do homework when really all you can do is look out the window and wish you could go there, be there, be anywhere but here.

Normal means you don’t feel threatened, you don’t have to wonder if and how you could do whatever it takes, just in case, and that maybe you should get a knife too, just in case. Normal means you don’t stare at the ceiling hour after hour, year after year, wondering if your life really as bad as it feels, wondering how or if or when you might ever get past the fear or get over the abuse or just forget these years ever happened at all.

I still hate that question, why be normal? What’s so wrong with normal?