Being average is OK. I will say that again. Being average is OK.
I recently started listening to the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#@@.” I have to admit my husband recommended it a couple of years ago. However, the vulgar title turned me off a bit. Then, recently, my brother recommended it after I was complaining about something that bugged me. He said I let too much bother me and this book might help get some perspective.
I started listening to it — and was impressed with how the author, Mark Manson, really pegs our society, our struggles and the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves and each other.
But, as he teaches me how to maybe set realistic expectations and not care about so much that really does not matter in the big picture — the book is also great at putting in perspective how being average is OK because, frankly, the majority of us are just average.
As parents we want our children to be great at everything, have all the opportunities and succeed at everything they do. In reality, we are all good at what we are good at. We are all not great at everything we try.
I may be good at writing, but I am definitely below average when it comes to trying to solve math problems when I help kids with homework. In college, getting a C in math was a blessing, really.
According to Manson, “Being ‘average’ has become the new standard of failure. The worst thing you can be is in the middle of the pack, the middle of the bell curve. When a culture’s standard of success is to “be extraordinary,” it then becomes better to be at the extreme low end of the bell curve than to be in the middle, because at least there you’re still special and deserve attention.”
When the expectations are set so high — How can anyone live up to them? That’s become part of society’s problem and probably a contributing factor to mental illness and depression rates skyrocketing. When we set these high expectations that we really cannot reach — We feel like failures.
When we see on Facebook and other social media how friends and family are living these amazing lives — We judge our own as failures. Never mind that in reality, people are only sharing their best days, their best moments on these social outlets. That does not matter. It only means we do not measure up.
As a society, imagine what would happen if we started being realistic in our goals and expectations. My son loves hockey. He’s not the best at it — he’s average. For me, that is OK.
My daughter is never going to be great at school. She is average. That is OK.
I am the poster child for setting too many expectations for myself. With each thing I fail at — I only work harder, set more goals and try more.
For my children, however, I have started working toward setting realistic goals. Play hockey if you love it. Who cares if you are great at it as long as you are doing your best and trying?
Try out for the school play. Who knows, you may be great at it, but just have fun.
If, as a society, we start realizing the majority of us are average — We might start feeling a lot more OK with ourselves and the world around us.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.