All my life I’ve been average. I grew up in your average family with 2.5 kids (okay: 2), your average dog, in your average house, in your average town. And I have struggled with being “average” since I was at least an early teen.
I’m not great at anything: no athletic, musical or artistic talent of any sort. I’m just average-looking and have your average intelligence. I know I shouldn’t complain, many people would love to be average at anything, let alone everything. However, I’ve always yearned for more: to have at least one quality or attribute that made me stand out from the pack; something that made me “not average.”
Our society today loves to parade around not being average. Television, magazines, social media, basically our entire American culture focuses on and rewards those that are “special” – those with incredible athletic prowess, unbelievable beauty or insane musical talent. People “in the middle” aren’t celebrated. They’re rarely recognized, let alone celebrated. It’s almost like we are “invisible” but not in the cool superhero way you imagined as a child. We muddle through paying our bills, raising our children and navigating our day-to-day lives.
However, while us “average Joes” don’t rate in society, I’ve learned that it’s in our personal relationships we truly learn to be “special.” My husband often says he’d be lost without me and he probably would. How else would his cabinets magically fill with food, his bills get paid, his children stay healthy and entertained,not to mention the other thousand things he takes for granted get done?! My children have only one mom and that’s me. Even though they will tell me “I’m the best mom ever!” only to follow-up with the “I’m worst mom ever!” exactly 3.5 minutes later, I know they would acutely feel my absence if I disappeared from the face of the earth. I am the only daughter to my parents; I think they’d miss me if nothing else than me bugging them no less than twice a day. And I have a couple good friends that I like to think I bring sunshine to daily (and vice versa!)
So, maybe being extraordinary to the world isn’t all that important,, maybe it’s being special to those who know and love you that truly counts. (Still, I don’t think it would hurt to be a beautiful and wealthy actress married to an actual rock star husband with a nanny, maid and mansion. . .) Nevertheless, here’s a shout-out to all of us stuck in the middle! When you start to think you haven’t accomplished anything “special in life, remember this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson