In Praise of Average

Here’s the thing: I’m average. That’s not such a brilliant revelation on the surface of it, but for the longest time I’ve been in denial. Stick with me here, this is a celebration my friends!

I realised recently that there has been a low-level panic going on in the background of my life. I’ve been frightened, I think, of my own capacity. Despite all evidence to the contrary, my ego rigidly wants to believe that I am exceptional. I’ve been afraid of my own “exceptional” capacity for darkness, for light, for helping, for hindering, for honesty, for delusion, for happiness, for sadness, for working, for slacking-off, for gratitude, for ingratitude … my capacity for being every side of every coin. As though mine is a capacity beyond others.

Average seems never to have been an option from me where myself is concerned. Why? Who am I to believe, even secretly, in my own ability to do or feel anything beyond all other human beings? It’s ridiculous.

Why should I believe, until now, that “okay” is alright for everyone else, but not for me? Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s important to strive. I truly believe it is! But the hilarious paradox is that this belief that I can, and should, do better than average, means I let myself off the hook almost continuously. I’ll shy away from doing certain things at all, simply because I can’t guarantee that I’ll do them well! Like a tantruming child who wont play if she can’t win. When I’ve been bad, I’ve believed myself to be the worst person in the world, and when I’ve been good, I’ve secretly thought of myself as God’s gift to humanity … Ha! When I think about attempting something new, or brave, or honest, I wrestle with myself for an eternity because I’m so afraid my humanity will show – how horrific. Even now, writing this, I’m fighting every instinct to delete it all and write about some recent “success” even if I have to make it up … And in the end, I waste a disgusting amount of time being concerned about “getting it right” or making it “perfect” and have little or no steam left when it comes to actually doing the thing.

You tell me, is that not exceptionally silly? … Probably not actually.

In terms of “average”, why is it so frowned upon? What is actually wrong with it? … I’ve decided I’m going to be happy to be robustly “middle of the road”. It’s a relief, in a way, to finally surrender to, and enjoy, my pedestrian nature. I’m raising my glass to mediocre. It’s an un-sung non-hero. Without un-outstanding people like me, exceptional people wouldn’t be exceptional … they’d be the rule.

The over-achievers slogan says “Refuse to be average!” … Well, I refuse to not be average! Someone’s got to do it. And am good at it. I hereby, fully and wholeheartedly embrace my median ways! I’m going to stand right here and provide a measure for unremarkable. You can judge your success by your distance from where I’m standing if you like. I don’t mind at all.

I do need to find a way to quieten that part of me that keeps whispering under its breath, “Yes, yes! You could even be exceptionally average!”. In fact, if you look close enough, you’ll see that I’ve managed to turn averageness into an ego trumpet right here in front of you. I suppose there are parts of my head that will forever remain lodged up my own behind … In an average sort of way of course. And proudly so.

Comments

12 Responses to “In Praise of Average”
  1. avatar Kate Williamson says:

    Yeah, you’re…. ‘alright’. Good in small doses. :p

  2. avatar Georgia Keighery says:

    @ Kate Williamson – You know it lady. The smaller the doses the better … Like brussel sprouts! 😀

  3. avatar Shane says:

    You’ve got to remember that 50% of the people in the world are above average….or below average if you prefer.

    I have found the better you get at something, the more you realise that you’re not in the same league as a professional or expert, so it kind of humbles you a bit. If you can be humble about being “pretty good” at something you can secretly feel good about it while laughing it off – “Mate, you have written plays and you run a blog!!!! I wish I could do that!!!” “Yeah, well, I’m no (insert famous playwrite/wright/…writer here) but I get by.”

    If everybody strived to be better than average – and succeeded – then the we as a people would increase our “average” – but there would still be people above and below “average”.

    That’s enough dribble for a Wednesday AM. Keep your head lodged firmly wherever you want to lodge it – it’s yours to do with what you want.

  4. Well, if I can be as average as you Ms K I shall be in very good company.

  5. avatar Renee says:

    I think your insights are a testament to the 4th decade of our lives (that most of us now are entering or truly well-established in), especially those of us who went to You Will Be Famous and Respected Globally High School. I’m with you on most of it, our Western cultural obsession with being exceptional usually results in an unhealthy competition culture (the Biggest Loser, who has the most friends on Facebook etc etc) that manifests both internally (causing psychological trauma) and socially (promoting individualism and devaluing community).

    However, I think your personal definitions of ‘exceptional’ can be somewhat limited. You have one of the single most beautiful, deep-thinking, empathic, observant, romantic, intelligent and loving centres I’ve ever seen in a person. And I’ve seen a lot. No one who has ever met you would think that you are anything but exceptional. Sorry to rain on your banal parade.

  6. avatar Mad Mary Lee says:

    Revelling in the average/ the ordinary must be wholeheartedly embraced !!It needs to go beyond “it’s OK” and into the area where the “average” is a potent and positive stance
    .
    Marcel Duchamp (Hero! Hero!) once said something like “If you fail once, go back and fail better.”

    You must hate it when your father responds to your Posts….

    I watched the sun rise over the ocean this morning and thought that it was an OK, pretty ordinary, average kind of a sunrise.

    I then had a shave and looked at myself in the mirror and saw how fantastically ordinary, average and just plainly Whacko/Wowoo I looked ……I then went shopping and Paris Hilton was in the Mall….SHE gave me the eye and so I said “Your little dog is very cute……can I buy her/will you give it to me?,,,,,,I would like to have it for lunch”

    Burp!

  7. avatar Kaz says:

    When I think of you many words come to mind ( good words btw )and Average is not one of them.
    I thought about listing them all for you but I don’t have enough space so Im going to give you my top 5…
    1. Forgiving
    2. Inspiring
    3. Insightful
    4. Creative
    5. Beautiful
    To say the least, thanks for yet another brilliant piece of insight Beautiful Lady G. xx xx

  8. avatar Vikookie says:

    Nup. Average is not your mantle Ms Georgia. We’ll have to think something else up for you. Normal doesn’t work. Ordinary? Nope. Run of the Mill? That’s not doing it either.
    ‘She had an averagely beautiful face, and ordinary gleaming dark hair, with run of the mill lithe legs and a really sharp normal brain’.
    Not working.
    None of it.
    Must get another word.

  9. avatar James Rainbow says:

    Even if there were some system which was able to calculate the ‘averageness’ level of each human being, and this system agreed with your self assessment of your ‘averagism’, you would still fall into the top 1% of those deemed average! Don’t know about you Miss G, but usually being in the top 1% of anything elevates one to the ‘extraordinary’ category…

    Average = Extraordinary. Got it!!

    Big love, JR x

  10. avatar Jessica Blake says:

    I stumbled across this quite by accident and after reading it was going to carry on about how un-ordinary you are, and dare I say it, but I would possibly put you into the category of above average as I have always thought that you are extraordinarily talented. However after seeing all the beautiful responses shouting out how wonderful you are I think ill downgrade my sentiments and agree with you. I raise my glass and toast … from one average person to another .. Here’s to averageness.

  11. avatar Deborah Fox says:

    Uh oh… You’re brilliance shone out a bit there. Perhaps you should rewrite that one.

    Georgia, you’re writing really causes me to stop and think. Always.
    You are so effective in your delivery of an idea. It’s amazing.!!

  12. avatar Georgia Keighery says:

    @ Shane – 50% of people on top of me, what a thought! I think you’re right about the benefits of a sense of humour, it makes the middle of the road a much more enjoyable place to be. You’re a very successful example of “well above average” my friend!

    @ Adrian Barnes – Hoorah for average Mr B! However, you’ll have to take my word for what it looks like, as I know for a fact that not only are you above average, but you also train above average people to reach new heights! Your score on the average scale is exactly zero… At last, something you don’t excel at!! 🙂

    @ Renee – Thank you my darling, your rain my parade is very refreshing indeed. However, I have to claim my averageness proudly – I have worked hard at it, and it’s one of the things I’m best at! I adore you, and every drop of your rain!

    @ Mad Mary Lee – Indeed my sweet you’re right – less calm acceptance of average, more potent reveling in it! I plan to go back, as Duchamp suggests, and fail with greater and greater flair whenever I have the chance (which is almost daily). If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly … Isn’t that what they say?!? … And by the way, it is one of my greatest points of pride when my father responds to my posts! Whacko Woowoo!

    @ Kaz – You’ve turned my head Miss Kaz, with your flattery! I don’t want to turn this into a game of mutual back-patting (although I sort of do want to, at the same time) but I think it’s interesting that invariably people tend to posses the very same traits in themselves that they see in their friends. Ask any of your friends. It’s true you know. Fact!

    @ Vikookie – I have several words that have been used to aptly describe me … I shall not list them as they’re mostly unmentionable and invariably hard to spell. Some of them are listed on my medication I think.

    @ James Rainbow – I’m so glad you got it darling … Remind me to ask you to explain it to me one day. I’m so often confused! I do know that I like you lots.

    @ Jessica Blake – Hi there Miss Jessica! Welcome aboard darling! I hope you’ll keep stopping by?! … And I, in turn, raise my glass to you and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your toast – to average!! Salute!

    @ Deborah Fox – When I grow up, I want to write as well as you. It’s only a few light years away from this average post. Thank you for being so generous, and for reminding me who I’d like to be one day.

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