If you’ve been in the pursuit of perfection, to be extraordinary, to find greatness, to be the best - we have some news for you. While having goals, purpose, ambitions are wonderful and keep us moving forward, many of us set these so impossibly high that we cannot actually achieve them. Or when we try to, it all goes wrong, we make mistakes, or it doesn’t turn out quite as we’d hoped.
And then how do you feel? Deflated, disheartened, perhaps even unworthy? Our perfectionistic tendencies can lead to self-defeating thoughts or behaviours - like telling ourselves we’re not good enough or procrastinating to avoid making a mistake, which makes it even harder to achieve our goals. So would we be happier embracing averageness instead of striving for excellence?
Why should we aim for average?
As humans, we’re widely diverse creatures in our skills, talents, and abilities. We’re all born with different aptitudes and abilities, for different things. Some of us are more athletic, finding a marathon a literal walk in the park. Some of us are brilliantly creative, destined to be the next Picasso. Or maybe you’re a mathematical whiz, a chess buff, or a technology wizard. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses.
But we’re mostly average at most things. It’s just the nature of life, even those with exceptional super skills usually come in average or below average elsewhere in life. Although we’re born with skills and abilities, becoming truly great at something requires time, energy and effort - and let’s be real for a minute, how many of us feel like we have spare time and energy to dedicate to honing a skill to be top-cat?
We have been taught, told and inspired to be something great, that we all have the power to be extraordinary and special, to be the best in our chosen fields. And while that might absolutely be true - if everyone was extraordinary then by definition, none of us would be, right? So, if you don’t have the time or energy to beat the Guinness World Record for the most push-ups with claps in a minute (the current record is 77 - let us know if you beat it) or become a rocket scientist at NASA, or even have a beautifully Instagram-able breakfast every day - you aren’t alone.
The need to be perfect can be self-destructive. It can fuel fear, disappointment, and frustration. It can cause us to procrastinate while decreasing our ability to make decisions. It can increase our anxiety levels and deplete our self-esteem.
How do we embrace averageness then?
Embracing averageness doesn’t mean we don’t care, we stop trying or that we throw in the towel. It’s about accepting that our best is enough, trying and failing is enough, being average is enough.
When we expect extraordinary outcomes, we feel entitled to them, or we cannot accept that something might not work out, problems arise. It can lead us to those existential crisis questions and self-deprecating thoughts, “What’s the point?”, “I’ll never be good enough”, “I should just give up now”. It’s not exactly a path to happiness, or contentment even, it’s much more likely a route to burnout, low self-worth, and heightened depression and anxiety.
So, here are 4 ways to start embracing averageness:
1. Take pleasure in everyday things
Build a habit of appreciating the ordinary things in life, having a car that gets you from A to B but is no Tesla, a home that is lived in and loved (despite the numerous Pinterest boards for organisation hacks), ice-cream in mid-winter, and the comfort of pyjamas and an early night on a Friday.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
In real life or online, it’s rare to know the full picture of other people, even our nearest and dearest. We often find ourselves wishing we had what others have because it all looks so amazing. Their figure, that relationship, their ability to get promotion after promotion hopping up the career ladder, easy breezy. Comparing ourselves to others, celeb or peers, wishing we had what they had, completely overlooks our own success, achievements, and abilities.
3. Make a values inventory
Think about what you value in life, what does success mean to you? What about happiness? What’s important to you? We can get swept up in the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’, for example, “I should have weekly date nights for my relationship to be good enough” or “I must keep working late to prove my worth to my boss”. But does that really align with your values? Or is it something the media told you to do, your parents want you to do, or your best friend values?
4. Accept that your best efforts are enough
Many of us fear failure, lack belief in ourselves, or struggle to acknowledge our worth. But we’ve all heard phrases like ‘If you don’t try, you’ll never know’, or the quote by Erin Hanson:
‘What if I fall? Oh my darling, but what if you fly?’
Having a go, trying your best, giving it all you’ve got - even to fall and fail, is enough. Your best efforts are enough, whether they succeed or not. Because we can’t always all be extraordinary!
The extra in ordinary: part of being human is being ordinary, average, but it doesn’t half suck when we try our hardest and things don’t work out. The extra part of being ordinary (and human) means dealing with setbacks and challenges. Remember to be compassionate for yourself when things don’t work out as you hoped, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, before picking yourself back up and getting back to it!