Can you be happy living an average, routine, ordinary, even mediocre life?
Years ago I heard a song (from the musical Pippin) that has stayed with me ever since. It basically said: I need to be extra-ordinary and do extra-ordinary things. And there’s a math joke about “75% of people think they are above average”. I know that I was always expected to “do great things”. Even when I was retiring, many colleagues commented I would go on to do something big and amazing.
I think our society supports the image of being above average, extra-ordinary, an over-night success, or having a great purpose in life. You’re expected to stand out in a crowd, get your 15 minutes of fame, get the quick promotion, or become a YouTube sensation. Retirees are challenged to start a second career, find their life purpose, and leave a legacy. Go big or go home (meaning fail).
Life often feels like it’s about proving oneself to others and getting approval. Everyone seems to worry about how many likes did they get? Have they been noticed? Did it get shared on social media? Did it go viral? [One blogging link-up I join insists on likes and shares as part of its engagement model.]
We are so brainwashed to not be just average, to not be ordinary, to be unique in some extra-ordinary way. Am I not enough as I am?
When I see the social media highlights of girl-friend dates, and I am sitting on the couch alone once again, am I a social pariah?
If I am not monetizing my blog or getting lots of follower and comments, is it really a success?
If I’m not building a second career, becoming a board member of a non-profit, watching grandkids on a regular basis, or striving for some physical goal like running a marathon or biking cross country, is my retirement life meaningful?
Can I accept this mediocre body of mine… one that will remain borderline obese because I really like to eat? How can I accept the fact I have no desire to work out at the gym every day? And how do I feel OK with being the “average American size 14”?
How do I accept that my daily life is more about mundane, routine activities like morning journaling, blog reading, walking, a bit of home chores, or a yoga class? Not any social activism, not a major connection to the divine, not epic workouts or grand adventures outside of my comfort zone.
Is it OK to be just OK at something? What if I don’t publish a best-selling book and then speak before thousands? What if I don’t become an artist selling her art? What if I never get better at stand-up paddle-boarding or bicycling? What if I don’t get on the board of a non-profit? Or become a globe-trotting adventurer? Or a gourmet cook?
Will I be enough if I’m just OK at writing or doing art or paddle-boarding or cooking?
Is it enough if my life is just an ordinary one? Maybe even unimportant. No saving the world. No 15 minutes of fame. No proving myself to anyone else. Just living an average, everyday, ordinary, mediocre life. Is that failure?
“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments.
We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”
Nothing grand. Nothing extra-ordinary. Nothing changing the world. Can I be happy just being average, ordinary me?
Picture Credit: Pixabay
The expression “08/15” is used in colloquial German to express that procedures or objects are on average or mediocre. It has become a standard reference to average. 🙂