The phrase ‘doe normaal’ is widely heard across the Netherlands, and if it is directed at you then you have certainly crossed the invisible Dutch line of what is acceptable and what not.
You may also hear, “Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg” which in essence means “behave normally – that is crazy enough”. Both common sayings make it very clear that there is a high regard in Dutch society for behaving ‘normal’, however you may wish to interpret that.
These sayings are in line with the reputation the Dutch have for not liking to stand out in a crowd – everything should be a bit average, a bit middelmatig. There’s no need to boast about things, show people how exceptional you are in a particular field. There’s no need to take yourself that seriously.
Unless of course you are the sporty type. When you can speed skate at gold medal level, play football or hockey to the highest of levels or swim like a world class fish then you can shout about it, or more accurately the people of the Netherlands will shout about it for you. Oranjegekte will take over and carry you to sporting wonderland.
Take the last winter Olympics and the unbelievable speed skating success of this little Dutch country. Look at this year’s World Cup and the outpouring of pride that a third place bronze medal created, the happiness that a fantastic run and being so close to playing in yet another World Cup final brought to the land of orange.
For such a little country the sporting achievements are truly remarkable. And it is the one area of life it seems that doe even normaal really doesn’t apply. And thank goodness it doesn’t!