Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Dividing line

I guess we all try to steer a careful line between normality and eccentricity. On the one hand we don't want to be normal, which means boring, predictable, obvious, stereotyped and just like everyone else. On the other hand we don't want to come across as some raving loony so detached from social norms that everyone gives us a wide berth.

I don't think there's much danger of my being seen as normal, since so many of my views and feelings are way out of line with other people's, or at least other people's as depicted by newspaper headlines, cabbies and the old geezer in the supermarket.

There's a much bigger risk of my turning into a wild-eyed eccentric, frothing and fizzing about every controversial issue and becoming the local laughing-stock that nobody takes seriously. I sometimes have to rein myself in and refrain from the sort of off-the-wall opinion that makes people knit their brows in bewilderment and ask me if I'm feeling all right.

I often have to ask myself "What would a normal person do in this situation?" and then act accordingly. Or alternatively, if the thought of behaving like a normal person, even for a few minutes, makes me distinctly queasy, I just keep quiet and wait for everyone else to enlighten me as to what the normal response might be.

When I come across someone who is conspicuously, dramatically eccentric, flouting every known rule of normal conduct with manic glee, I shudder and hope fervently that my own behaviour is still well short of such lurid extremes.

It's hard to tell though. I'm eccentric enough already, what with being a feminist, a socialist, a vegetarian, a Royal Jubilee refusenik, an Olympics don't-care, a Dexter Dalwood fan. Would it take much more to propel me into the heady realms of nutterhood?

But it's all relative, isn't it? It doesn't take much to feel eccentric in this particular neighbourhood, packed as it is with God-fearing churchgoers and Union Jack-wavers. If I was camping out at some mud-drenched anti-capitalist rock festival near Stonehenge, I would probably feel completely at home - and sickeningly normal.

Footnote: I guess at the end of the day, whether I feel normal or eccentric is pretty academic, because the only thing that really matters is whether other people accept me or not.... 

22 comments:

Bijoux said...

I guess normalness is in the eye of the beholder. I've been known to say some outrageous things and I have opinions that are all over the place when it comes to politics and religion.

However, I don't equate 'normal' with 'boring.' Most people are just being themselves, which is better in my mind than trying to be someone they're not. Frankly, when I see someone dressed very oddly, etc., I do my best to ignore them because what they truly want is attention! LOL!

Liz said...

I can't get excited about the jubilee or the Olympics so i'm with you on that.

Who wants to be normal anyway?

Scarlet Blue said...

But your opinions are the result of rational thinking.... unlike my desire to run across the Devon fields in nothing more than a pair of green elf shorts and some union jack bunting, singing hooray and up she rises.....
Sx

Scarlet Blue said...

......and this is for all you lovely bloggers.
Sx

Grannymar said...

So what will you be doing for the weekend?

CheerfulMonk said...

I've known for years that most people don't share my enthusiasms. That's fine too. I listen when I'm with them and then go off and have a grand time doing my own thing. We're all a bunch of nuts so no sense taking the whole thing too seriously.

nursemyra said...

I'm lucky enough to have found kindred eccentrics to hang out with when i'm on my own time. At work I appear as normal as a tattooed, pierced, purple haired, corset wearing gal can be. Well, it helps that the tattoo, piercing and corset are all hidden by a very prim uniform

Nick said...

Bijoux - Indeed, always better to be yourself than someone you're not. Even if it's 100% normal....

And I don't mind odd, attention-seeking dress, if it's entertaining.

Liz - Glad to find another person averse to all the Jubilee and Olympics hype.

Scarlet - And why not? Whatever turns you on. I'll be down there with my camera....

Nick said...

Grannymar - Who knows? Something wildly eccentric probably....

Monk - That sounds good, that you've managed to find a like-minded bunch of nuts.

Myra - Likewise your set of kindred eccentrics. I often wonder what extraordinary garments are hidden under all the prim and proper work clothes people are wearing.

kylie said...

goodness me, nick!
not once have i stopped to imagine what a normal person might do!

and in all honesty, you dont seem that eccentric to me.

Jenny Woolf said...

Mm, those views seem pretty typical here in inner NW London, Nick. I don't know who Dexter Dalwood is, though. Or at least I didn't till I googled him - very interesting stuff so yes, thats another tick of the box. Now the only way in which I differ from you on those points is that I am a Jubilee fan.

having lived in Northern Ireland myself, though, I might not be such a flag waver if I was still there..

Wisewebwoman said...

I've never viewed you as eccentric Nick. Most of what you write is on the side of fairness and equal rights and I don't see that as eccentric but ethical.
I am probably more to the eccentric side as I don't conform to other's expectations but like yourself, have to forcibly reign myself in from time to time for fear of the horror (and possible ostracization) of others.
The old rules apply for me: avoid discussions of politics and religion.
I would add sexuality and feminism.
XO
WWW

Secret Agent Woman said...

I think if you follow your heart, you'll be okay.

e said...

you consider yourself eccentric? You seem remarkably balanced and sane to me, Nick. Now, me, I'm a bit eclectic and I don't really give a toss what other people say or do most of the time.

Nick said...

Kylie - Never ever ever? Don't believe you. It seems I hide my rampant eccentricity better than I thought.

Jenny - Ha, that's probably where I picked them up, inner NW London. Dexter Dalwood's quite something, isn't he? Indeed, there's far too much flag-waving in NI as it is.

www - Being probably as eccentric as each other, we don't really notice just how off-centre we are....

Nick said...

Agent - Very good advice.

e - As I said, I must be keeping my eccentricity well-hidden! You've got the right attitude, I probably pay too much attention to what other people think.

Rummuser said...

In my patch of green, my lifestyle is considered to be very eccentric. Not my value system, which is considered to be quaint, but lifestyle only. It got upgraded to plain insanity when the household became one for three single men!

Nick said...

Ramana - There are plenty of households with three single men, though three men of different generations is probably more unusual.

Jodi @ Heal Now and Forever said...

My first time here, so I don't know you. But I bit there are probably some circles that would think you are conservative, it is all relative.

Nick said...

Jodi - It's all relative, agreed, but I don't think eccentric and conservative could ever be confused. There again, looking at the current British government....

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

OH and I are very happy to be considered eccentric. In fact, I think both of us would be slightly annoyed NOT to be considered eccentric and also slightly mad.

Normal? Who wants it? ;)

Nick said...

Jay - I agree. I would certainly prefer to be seen as a bit eccentric rather than blandly normal (interesting that it's not possible to be a BIT normal, you're either normal or you're not).