The other day a friend and I were at the local QFC grabbing some food to prep for a barbecue. We were headed down the frozen food isle to pick up some popsicles.
Just as we were about to head to the checkout line, I noticed a lady in a power-stroller. She was attempting to reach into the freezer door and pick out a couple of boxes of popsicles. Unfortunately her chair made it near impossible to keep the door open while trying to reach up to the freezer shelf to grab her product.
I hurried over to hold the door and then notice that she was going to need help getting to the popcicles. I placed my hand on her shoulder and said, "They sure didn't make them easy to reach, did they? Can you tell me which ones you want and I'll grab them for you." She smiled and moved her chair back, and after rifling through the mess of popsicles on the shelves, we finally grabbed the ones she wanted. She put them in her bag and grabbed my hand saying, "Thank you dear. You made me feel normal."
For some reason her words struck me. She didn't just say thank you, instead she helped me understand that feeling normal was important to her.
It is easy for us to look around and pick out things that are not normal, or are different. We learn to do this early on in our cognitive development. It was even a game on Sesame St. with a jingle, "One of these things is not like the other..." Often times, we can get pretty wrapped up in trying to not appear as abnormal or different. Still there are many who's circumstance will never provide them the opportunity to fit in, whether that be a physical disability, race, creed, color, or sexual orientation.
It's understandable to want to feel like we are accepted by others, but let's not forget to remember that there are many whose context places them outside of what may be considered social norm. It's important to put our feet in someone else's shoes and understand their situation. Making someone feel normal, helping them feel recognized, is a gift that has more impact than we often realize.
As Rena Harmon said it, "