Average isn’t good enough anymore. No average student is being told they’ll easily find work and no average person is having praises dispensed to them for doing what’s seen as principle. Things that, possibly to that person, seem dignified and accomplished but in our larger, vicious circle of defining superiority, fall flat.
“Average” is no longer synonymous with that which is common, but rather what’s unacceptably and humiliatingly “normal.” Normal, which means, below the new “average,” meaning to be unreasonably and universally seen as accomplished– a completely impossible feat. But we’re expected to play different roles. Live different lives depending on the company we’re keeping. External validation is the most immediate gratification, and we’re still at it’s whim almost everyday. We assimilate ourselves to appease others and adopt their ideas of ideal as our own. The problem is that nobody gauges “perfect” or dignified by how happy someone is, and even if they did, they’d still be wrong, because happiness cannot be a consistent measure of worth.
Nobody is graduating college being met with declarations of wow, congratulations for studying humanity through literature and pursuing your passion for social justice and reading theoretical prose or studying math because numbers and solidified answers comfort you and make sense. It’s congratulations for achieving this essentially customary stepping stone toward the American Dream which is if not completely deluded, dead… Do you have a 9-5 solidified yet? Which is hilarious in itself because we judge those who have hourly jobs and we judge those who don’t for selling their souls to corporate America.
Average is not a dirty word. It’s a misunderstood word. It really has no place in the discussion of our lifestyles and choices and gauge of happiness unless we’re talking about statistics, which usually don’t serve people’s everyday lives and measure of themselves well because they slate us to compare ourselves to one another. Comforting if you fit, disconcerting if you don’t.
Because aside from our general vain opinions against minimum wage and moderate living and coupons and flawed relationships and anything that doesn’t look like a page ripped out of a Kardashian look book, we also don’t understand happiness. We don’t get that it’s not a reaching game. It’s a staying game. It’s what you have most when you’re trying least and just look around. And we are policing each other toward happier, more fulfilling lives in the absolute worst, most delusional way possible.
Growth is not perfectionism. Happiness is not perfectionism. Growth means to bloom where you are planted. Happiness is to be enamored by the plant. To be doing what most others are isn’t subpar. Common does not mean undignified. But what does is when we start making disingenuous choices to be “above-average.” Not because we feel compelled to but because they will allow us to define ourselves to others in a way that will receive a certain reaction. I am this, I am that, I am worthy. But it will never be enough. Because there will always be people scoffing at something because of their own mind’s retaliation of what should be ideal: they’ll judge you negatively to see themselves positively.
So we have to start seeing ourselves not categorically defined in society but as people who embrace their ability to choose and think and change and enjoy their morning cup of coffee and call themselves average if it’s comforting and dismiss the entire concept if it’s not. Because the whole idea that people are or aren’t worthy based on what they do or have done is not only irrelevantly dangerous but is also demeaning and ignorant of the human condition.