Is normal not normal

What does ... normal mean?

We want to be all kinds of things, just not normal, please. Normal - that sounds like habit, like Max Mustermann and Lieschen Müller, like boring average. But what is actually normal? And why? Normality refers to adherence to norms. Because standards are not just guidelines for quality management or office furniture, they also define important criteria for social interaction. A norm is less than a law, but more than an agreement between individuals. So normal is what you usually stick to. As a result, the normal usually shines through the absence of big surprises, it does not glitter or shimmer. Normality is hard to post, and if you do, nobody cares.

Anything but normal

So we try hard not to be normal. And of course we hope that this will also be noticed - a little admiration would not be wrong! However, if we take a closer look around in pursuit of the extraordinary, then the supposedly normal often no longer seems so normal. Because in fact it is the crowd that would like to be something special. Many standards are now just well-intentioned advice that we can either accept or - which is happening more and more frequently - to ignore. Consequence: The deviation from the norm is the norm today.

Iris Radisch describes our restless search for the other very vividly in her book "Die Schule der Frauen" when she describes the young father who wants to do something really crazy and takes off his shirt and then mows the lawn. He wants to express: Hey, look, I'm so crazy that I can even be stuffy! Oh dear, we've really created something enormously extraordinary and turned the normal into its own opposite. Now the only question is how we can find out - of course, without becoming a real philistine.

Is there normality at all?

Maybe we just stop - just for a moment - from observing ourselves in everything we do and gauging the exhibition value of our actions. This is how the contemporary philosopher Byung-Chul Han puts it. We may then feel that there is no such thing as normality at all and that what we consider to be a precious special case of our modern life. Namely the rare fact that things just go their way, that we have no problem with it, that it is the way it is, and that we wouldn't change much at all, even if we could.

So much normality is anything but normal. And that's why we should just enjoy it every now and then instead of fighting it. Because one thing is certain: the next disturbance in our oh-so-calmly rippling life will definitely come, whether we want it or not.

Ina Schmidt, 39, is a philosopher and author. She founded the initiative "denkraeume", with which she brings the wisdom of great thinkers from the ivory tower of science into everyday life.