Differences in Character: What is Normal?

As a writer, something I grapple with on a daily basis is the concept of “what is normal.”

Although we all grow up with our own prejudices and misconceptions, in order to truly understand character, you must see people for who they are.

Inevitably, while reading or writing, you relate to some characters more than others because they resemble you overtly (or else because they’re so drastically differently). However, like undressing a paper doll, when you pick off your favorite character’s quirks, facial features, strengths, and flaws, you’re left not only with what is innately human but also with a handful of particulars comparable to anyone else’s who has been stripped down.

I recently came across this quote in Positive Discipline A-Z by Jane Nelsen, H. Stephen Glenn, Lynn Lott, Jane Nelsen, Ed.D.:

My Brussels Griffon, Huckleberry, whom I affectionally call "abnormal."

It’s important message to absorb as a parent of someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD), but also as anyone who engages and affects the world. Too often we isolate ourselves by judging others’ surfaces—race, weight, dialect, economic status, religion, hometown, beauty, energy level... Our innermost similarities get lost in a struggle for normalcy and we’re left unable to value the idiosyncrasies that dress a person.

Consider the last time you felt excluded or that you judged someone unfairly. Take a moment and think about where you see yourself in that other person or if there’s a part of that person in you.