If there is such a thing as normal, what does it look like? This is a question I asked myself as I read the essay written by Betania Robles in the book a picture is worth… My blog today is about Betania’s story, as a part of my series about essays written by young people in the book designed to be an education curriculum component. The last post in my series was about a young lady named Lucy.
Betania’s Young Life
Betania is a teenage girl who is happy some days and sad on other days. She feels awkward and is bullied about her name by high school peers who call her names like Petunia and Lasagna.
She also describes her family and that her parents had already broken up before her mother knew she was pregnant with Betania. Her father and older sisters live in Brooklyn, New York while she lives in Reading, Pennsylvania. Due to the long distance, Betania does not feel close to her father or elder sisters.
When Betania discusses her changes in mood from day to day, she writes, “I don’t know if that’s normal but I’m pretty sure those weird feelings will pass by as I grow up” (p. 97). I reread that sentence several times, and each time I thought: Does ‘normal’ exist?
What is Normal?
I think Betania may wonder what is normal for many reasons. She is going through puberty, which can be overwhelming and full of unknowns. Additionally, she does not have a father to look to for answers about why teen boys act in certain ways around her. If her mother is busy as a single parent, perhaps Betania feels she doesn’t have anyone to turn to for guidance or to talk with about the bullying issue.
She may also hear from her peers that they live with both of their parents or that they are close to their siblings. These family structures are different than her own and she may think those of her peers are ‘normal.’
When I think of the word normal, the words ‘average’ and ‘mediocre’ come to mind. If that is what Betania wants to be, perhaps to fit in with her peers, I can understand that. I was bullied as a teen by a girl at my school, and I desperately wanted it to stop by somehow becoming part of the cool crowd.
My Message to Betania
Here’s the thing though, Betania. This is what I want you to hear: Being average later in life isn’t what I hope you want to be.
After you graduate from school, pursue your dreams of career and family. I want you to know that you can achieve so much, and the only limits are those you put on yourself. Rise above the “average” to be sensational. You can, and I hope you will!
Did you want to be normal when you were a teenager? Is so, what did ‘normal’ look like? Now that you are older, do you think that normal exists?