“But, wait, if I am not exceptional or special, then what is the point of it?
In our culture today, we are taught to believe that we are all destined to be amazing and to do something exceptional. Media say it, celebrities say it, politicians say it, motivators, business experts say it. We deserve greatness and each and every one of us can be extraordinary. However, there is a big contradiction in this statement itself because, if we ALL were extraordinary, then, actually, nobody would be extraordinary.”
Is It So Bad To Be Average?
Hey there fellow readers! Today I would like to shift a little bit from our “work more, make more, buy more” culture and discuss the mediocrity instead. The “being average” state. I know that many of you may argue that one should always try to do the best he possibly can to be more and to escape mediocrity. But hey, despite our best efforts, we do end up there more often than we want to, aren’t we? So, in this post, I want to take a deeper look at how we accept that and how we deal with being average or feeling average when we end up there.
The trade-offs of life.
Life is a funny thing. It gives some of us the talent to be extremely good, let’s say, academic learners, while others are born with great physical stamina and skills. There are people who are very artistic, while others are plain boring but, at the same time, they can run a marathon without hardly breaking a sweat. Humans are so diverse in terms of talents and skills that it is actually unfair to measure them by standard merits. Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
The question that I have for you is, “What is your genius?” Some of you may say that what we manage to accomplish in life is a product of our personal efforts and practice, but we have to take into consideration that each and every one of us is born with different potential and capabilities. Each of us has his own strengths and weaknesses. And this is probably exactly what makes us pretty average at most things that we do.
People are pretty average at most things!
You may be quite good at one or two things – say languages, or math, or communication. However, there are definitely things that you are not good at. Or not as good as you want to be. See, chances are that, except the things that you are good at, you are pretty average or below average at most other things. Because, let’s face it, if you want to become truly great at something, you have to put special efforts and dedicate time and energy to it. But we all have limited time and energy and many things that ask for our efforts and attention in those 24 hours a day that we all have. Therefore, very few of us manage to dedicate their time and energy to become truly exceptional at more than one thing, if anything.
It is practically impossible for every single person to be a performer in all areas of their life, even if they still are doing good in some of them. In fact, if we think of it, many brilliant businessmen are often having a mess in their personal life. Amazing and hard-working professionals are unable to set up a sustainable business of their own. Exceptional sportists are performing in their sports but they often are shallow and honestly dumb about other things. Lawyers may have expertise in their field, but they may lack a basic understanding of some other things. Celebrities may be good at the stage but they may not be able to fry an egg without burning the house.
This all comes to the point that, for most of the things, we all are pretty average people. The extremes are those that get all the attention and publicity. The majority of us, however, will hardly be truly exceptional at anything. And you know what – that is completely okay. We normally don’t want to openly think or talk about it, but we all somehow intuitively know it.
Mediocrity, as a result, is okay. However, mediocrity, as a goal sucks.
Very few people can get this. And even fewer can accept it because many of us have been taught that we have to perform, we have to be good at all subjects in school and later on in life to tick all the checkboxes of good and successful living. We are expected to be extraordinary and grow up with this idea when in reality, this is just not viable. Aiming at having an average life, at the same time, is seen as something extremely bad. In fact, many people think that the point of life is being extraordinary and spend their life putting pressure on themselves to prove their amazingness and being miserable while trying to escape ordinary life by all means.
Looking for a good read full of humor and insights about the need to be special or superior?
I love the way this book starts: “I know you said a lifetime ago that you were going to grow up and be something special. But that didn’t happen, did it?” LOL…How true.
The pressure of the EXCEPTIONALISM culture.
Today, more than any other time in history, I think that we have this expectation to be extraordinary because the technology and the economic privileges that we live in have made us believe so. And that’s a problem. Yes, nowadays we have access to all kinds of information with a click of a button. Facebook, YouTube, Google and all the information on the Internet can be reached within seconds and this is amazing. However, in this digital era when we are showered with information, there is simply no way we can process it all. Our attention span is very limited and, that’s why the only pieces of information that can truly catch our attention are the ones that are exceptional.
The media knows this and constantly fills our lives with information about extremes – the best, the worst, the greatest, the funniest, the scariest, the most, the latest, top, etc. After all, this is what gets the people’s attention and brings dollars. The paradox is that the majority of life happens in the middle, in the average span that no one shows us.
This constant exposure to extreme information, actually, has made me believe that we might have taken the exceptional as the new normal. All these media has conditioned us to believe that extremes are the norm, but since we all aren’t that extraordinary, we somehow feel quite insecure and desperate to become exceptional and feel extraordinary all the time. We seek ways to constantly compensate, to prove that we also are special and unique.
In fact, we have been led to believe that we must always be proving that we are exceptional, just not to feel left behind all the other human greatness that is constantly happening around us. And this has turned into a kind of a psychological tyranny in our culture today.
But, wait, if I am not exceptional or special, then what is the point of it?
In our culture today, we are taught to believe that we are all destined to be amazing and to do something exceptional. Media say it, celebrities say it, politicians say it, motivators, business experts say it. We deserve greatness and each and every one of us can be extraordinary. However, there is a big contradiction in this statement itself because, if we ALL were extraordinary, then, actually, nobody would be extraordinary. Isn’t it logical? Yet we all keep buying the “you have greatness within you” message like anything while being “average” has become the new synonym for failure. The worst thing you can be is to be “average”, to be one of the many.
Statistically, however, the majority of us are average almost all of the time, in most of the things we do. Yet, many people are afraid to accept mediocrity because they believe that if they accept being average, they will never improve, never achieve anything great, never leave a mark, and their life, basically, doesn’t really matter. In my opinion, this kind of thinking is very dangerous because if you are thinking that life is only worth if you are extraordinary and nothing less, then you are basically writing off the majority of the humans and yourself, in a large part of your life.
But let’s get back to the problem where people find it difficult to accept mediocrity because they believe that they won’t have the motivation to improve or perform if they admit they are average. This is yet another misguided belief, which confuses a lot of people.
So, let’s take a different perspective – think about the people who are truly exceptional. Do they become exceptional because they believed that they are? Or they rather became performers because they believed that they are mediocre, average and not amazing at all. But they believed they can improve, and can be so much better. Focusing on improvement actually comes from the belief that you are not good enough. Thus, accepting mediocrity is the foundation of becoming better.
Accepting the bland and rude truth that you are, in fact, pretty average in the grand scheme of life will actually lift up the pressure and stress from you to constantly be amazing, do the next big thing, prove yourself and meet the expectations of everyone that has taken the extreme as the new normal. And, at the same time, the acceptance of your own mediocre existence can actually free you to achieve what you truly want to achieve and give you the motivation to improve.
Appreciating life’s basic experiences and existence also has its own charm even if they don’t show it on the news. And there is simply no need to chase on extremes to feel worthy and great. Be who you are. Do what you can. But if you have fallen in the trap of the tyranny of the exceptionalism culture, maybe it is about time to accept that it is okay to be average and to measure yourself through healthier merits – the care you take for your family, the pleasure of simple communication, the good friendships, the creation of something, the good read, the good sleep, the good laugh that is shared with someone… You know, those average, simple things that maybe are what actually truly matter.
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have.”
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