If I had to give a graduation speech, it would be about being average.
No one really aspires to be average. Everyone wants to be above-average, right? Well, that would be impossible. Because by definition, most people are average or below-average.
I grew up thinking I was above-average. Because, well, that’s what all the percentiles said. Above-average in test scores. Above-average in height. I was a 99th percentile sort of girl.
(Writing this post makes me want to end standardize testing just so a lot of people aren’t graduating from school with this inflated view of themselves. You can’t really define your worth in a percentile, after all.)
Anyway. I thought I was going places in life. That I would achieve something. That I would be above-average.
Well, then I graduated college and entered the real world (particularly, I became a stay-at-home mom, a humbling career where everyone struggles). I realized that I wasn’t particularly smart, creative, or talented. I do have talents, mind you, but there is always someone better than me. There are always millions of people better than me in every individual aspect.
I don’t feel above-average anymore at all. (Except for my height, which still is above-average, but there are still millions of people taller than me.)
But being average is fine! It’s wonderful! You don’t have to be better than people. You can just be yourself and you can finally be happy about it. Because you can end with the comparisons. Because you don’t have to base your worth on what you achieve in life or how you are special or talented.
You can just live. And be happy. Like the billions of people around the world who are average or below-average and are doing just that. Living. And being happy.
They tell you, “Achieve your dreams! Be extraordinary! You are special!” But if everyone is special, no one is. And that’s fine, because we’re still worthwhile and happy and meaningful and carry on wonderful lives. In fact, most of us fail miserably in some aspect and reach below-average.
I’m still smiling.
(Post script: notice that my shirt is dirty in the above picture. The joy of children.)
(And there is a part 2 of this post.)