Being average isn’t a benchmark we strive to achieve. Attached to the adjective “average” seems to be a string of negative connotations.
Who wants to say, “I was average in school,” “I’m kind of plain,” or “I am an average athlete?”
No one, that’s who.
The Sheep Pen
As individuals average feels like we are drowning in a sea of “better than me.”
When people believe that they live in a herd and they’re stuck in the middle of the infamous bell curve, they will go to great lengths to be noticed.
Those among us who are noticed — I mean really noticed — are those who rise above average. Right?
For instance, the athletes who receive millions, those who get a Ph.D. from an Ivy League school in the top 3% of their class, or the models who grace the covers of the magazines prominently displayed in the racks at the check-out counter.
These people are not average.
What is an individual supposed to do when being average is not something he wants, but it is nonetheless who he is?
I don’t know if what I am about to share will be uplifting or depressing, but the fact is that the greatest majority of human beings are average.
Average intelligence, average looks, average sporting abilities.
The thing of it is, these same individuals are also hard-working parents, loving caregivers to aging parents, uncommon heroes or heroines who put their life at risk for a stranger. They are the people at the grocery store, the park, the bank, and all around us. They are the people we see and interact with on a daily basis.
True, they are also the ones whom you will find in the shadows of the “above average.”
Above average does not equate exceptional human beings. It merely means that a person is endowed with abilities which the rest of us don’t have and which our society praises for whatever reason.
One does not choose their looks or innate abilities. These gifts are endowed upon us at birth.
Above average does not make anyone honest, loving, happy, responsible…
Up Close and Personal
Case in point, allow me to share a story.
Once, over dinner, a man in his then 70s, recounted his life story as we ate. Over his — pricey — chicken and rice plate at a fancy restaurant, he mentioned his father had walked out on his mother and his two older sisters when he was only but three-years-old. The reason his mothers gave him for this abandonment was that “your father was just too good looking.”
While I let the comment pass the first time he uttered it, I couldn’t the second time he mentioned it.
“Pardon me, but good looks are not a reason for lack of character. It is an excuse and a bad one at that.”
I will not accept the justification that being a drop-dead-gorgeous-man is a possible absolution for leaving a wife and three young children behind. Especially during a time in history when single moms had no support at all (we are talking the mid-1940s).
Neither do I accept “boys will be boys” as a justification for a boy peeing on another (as one boy did to my son once at a birthday party) for “fun.” The parents guffawed at this disgusting display excusing their son’s behavior because he was a boy? I don’t think so. Not on my watch. Being a boy is no excuse for being a pig.
Most of us will never have the IQ of a genius, the good looks of a model, or the athletic ability a gold medal winner at the Olympics. And guess what? The world won’t stop turning because these statements are true.
While as a society we value physical appearance and great athletic abilities, as well as mental prowess, this does not infer that those of us with no such attributes are of no value to humankind.
I know this will sound trite and cliché. We are all gifted at something. Something only we can do even if it is “just” being a mechanic, teacher, or baker.
When we need a mechanic, we will take “plain Tom who failed in school and was inept at sports” if said Tom is amazing at fixing cars. Likewise, when our kids go to school, we will pump our fist in the air upon learning little Lucy will be in “plain Mrs. Smith’s class who won the teacher of the year award — five years in a row — because while not a beauty nor a genius, she is the best teacher you have ever encountered and kids love her.”
Yes, being average holds a stigma. Yes, I — or we — are probably not going to change society’s views on this, because there are powerful forces at work here. However, we can improve our beliefs, and we can affect the people we love as well as the people we encounter.
We have value as human beings. The end.
Yes, human BEINGS, not human doings. Being is good enough.
Even if we are average — or less than — we exist. We are.
Yes, we should strive to be the best us we can be. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Our best better darn well be good enough.
I believe wholly accepting ourselves and loving who we are, as we are, is the beginning of wisdom. Finding peace in being average — or less or more than — brings joy.
It does not mean we should settle for an average life.
This narrative reminds me of a public figure I admire and who inspires million because he has not let his limitations stop him from living a less than average life: Nick Vujicic. He embodies the fact that while we do not get to choose the cards we are dealt, we do get to choose our path.
Who will you choose to be?
There is zero happiness, serenity, or glory in being fake or pretending to be someone we are not.
Joy is found in acceptance. There is nothing average in acceptance.
Acceptance does not mean we cannot strive to be better today than we were yesterday. It does, however, mean we accept what is before us and then make the very best of it.
For years, I found zero joy in fighting my body, trying to make it submit to my will. I was angry with it for not being what I felt it should be — model worthy. Despite the fact, I was not model material. I had a fantastic life — I still do. I had everything to be happy expect the body measurements I wanted.
I am now utterly grateful for my body. I love it and show that love by not abusing it (anymore). We have become BFFs.
Shame is not our friend. There is no shame — or there shouldn’t be — in being you with your gifts and talents, as well as your flaws and shortcomings especially if you live in integrity and are true to your essence,
Being average is not a cuss word. It is not relevant to anything meaningful.
Be YOU whatever that means. Life is not a contest.
In the end, we all receive the same prize: a plot of dirt six feet under.
Death is a phenomenal equalizer, as is life.
Joy Ride…or Not
Disease, pain, divorce, death, etc., are distributed equally to all. Life is a roller coaster ride which lifts us to incredible heights and then plunges us into despair.
Off the tracks.
Back on track.
Why am I here?
Did I sign up for this?
Grateful to be alive…today.
The Lie of Being Average
Being average, less than, or above average have nothing to do with this ride.
The funny thing is that there is one thing that can make this journey more comfortable and which we all have control over. Yes, there is an arena where we get to choose who we will be: less than average, average or above average.
This arena is our attitude.
Are we grateful? Or, are we angry and blaming others and Life for where we are?
Practicing gratitude has a massive correlation with life satisfaction. However, to be effective, gratitude has to be practiced regularly and often.
In conclusion, while we do not get to choose our physical or intellectual traits, we do get to decide how we experience life. In this department, “average” is not something I want to be.
The funny thing is the more I exercise my gratefulness muscle, the stronger it gets and the happier I am.
When it comes down to it…none of us are average. We are, however, all unique with strengths and weaknesses which make one of a kind and anything but average. “Average” is a term used when people are pitted against one another and classified and quantified in neat little boxes with awfully sticky labels.
Not playing that game.
I don’t want to see a sea of faceless people as part of some dumb and irrelevant bell curve. I want to look at every person before me for who they are. And, I want to see them.
End of story.