Are you? Are you normal? How would you even know? Luckily, data journalist Mona Chalabi is asking these same questions about herself, which is why she created “Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi.” In this TED podcast, she consults studies and spreadsheets, experts and strangers to find answers to her burning questions like: is it really that bad to marry my cousin? Is my dentist scamming me? How many friends do I need?
This podcast is just one season so far, and we definitely need more. This first season is just 8 episodes, each approximately 25 minutes long. The second season will be launching in September 2022.
As Mona tells us at the top of the first episode, she has always been obsessed with numbers. She’s always used numbers to make sense of this chaotic world. But she knows that we humans and the chaotic lives we lead aren’t going to lead a life of perfectly average numbers. No matter how helpful data can be, it can’t tell the whole story.
Thus, she created “Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi,” and its first episode also happened to precisely coincide with the end of Mona’s year-long relationship, which was the perfect topic to start with. Each question she covers isn’t one that can be solved succinctly in a Google search. She has questions all of us ask, like: when will I get over my breakup?
In each episode, she speaks with people like psychology professor Eli Finkel, who has conducted studies on breakups, and Hod Tamir, her relationship counselor. And obviously, she talks to her mom. With their help, she looks at the numbers, sees where they’re lacking, and continues her search deeper inside the human mind.
She speaks with scientists about the myth of the biological clock and breaks down the scientific, cultural, and psychological elements that have shaped the way we think about fertility. She asks social psychology of law professors about how we as a society and as individuals understand laws and how it shapes our behavior.
Many of these topics also came up during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people questioning whether they should move back in with their parents or if they’ve lost touch with too many friends.
“Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi” is a brilliant mix of devastatingly relatable topics, backed by fascinating data, and drenched in soulful storytelling. With each topic being so personal to Mona, we get to hear her own experiences that may differ from the data that she’s looking at. And in turn, we can take her observations and relate them back to our own experiences. In every episode, she shows us that we all need to feel our feels when they’re meant to be felt.
For a little dose of brilliance in your listening queue, be sure to check out “Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi.”