My acceptance of being average

I have the opinion that everyone comes to the crashing conclusion at some point in their life that they are an ordinary, average person.  It’s that realization that even though you’ve been told you are going to be special, and achieve great things, and are uniquely special– you might just go through life with an average house, an average job,  an average build, and average intellect.

This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I think after reading countless volumes of self-help books, coupled with my view of our divine potential, and added to the fact that purposely chosen things in life that would give me the most accolades–I think I have held onto this belief that my true potential is this triathlon running, best selling novel writing, top sales producing, spiritually guided/wisdom spouting father and husband–the guy everyone admires, and part of the couple that everyone wants to emulate.

The problem is, I’m not that guy. I’ve run A triathlon (one of those baby ones), I’ve written countless journal entries and shot stories and rarely finish them,  I’m currently in a funk in my sales job, and I rarely seek after things of a spiritual nature. So when I compare that to the image of what I SHOULD be, I feel like a disappointment.

Then after I’ve sufficiently punished myself, I start worrying about what others think, and if I’m letting anyone down. My boss. My wife. This has been compounded by the fact that I have a son now–who one day will realize that his dad is a salesman with back pain and barely average athletic ability. Will he look up to me?

So I thought I’d examine this collision which occurs so much for many of us–the realization that even though you may be unique, you may be just a normal, average person.

One way to look at it, is according to Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden from Fight Club (Must read, if you can handle the language):

“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. —- damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy — we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off. ”

That’s one way to look at it. The media has told us what our life SHOULD be. So when it turns out we don’t live in a fancy house, have a fancy car, we get pissed off about it.

But let’s look at another perspective, by the total other end of the spectrum, former President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

So I guess I’ve had a bit of an epiphany. We’re all average. We’re all normal. But that has to be also reconciled with what is our infinite potential. So far, everything I have read, is that most self-help literature focuses on a very inward-centric way of improvement–when what we really need is to look to how we can help others. Essentially, as said in Luke 17:33 “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it”.

We don’t achieve a very high potential by focusing inward, and focusing on our shortcomings. That just sends us into the downward spiral of internal fault finding and misery.

Another quote by President Hinckley:

“Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

And another, which focuses on the antidote for worry, anxiety, and fretting over not living up to expectations:

“The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

My take? I need to relax, and just accept the fact that I’m an average guy, and stop holding myself to this external standard. Once I accept that, then I focus on helping others. Reaching out to others. That, along with just trying just a little more, standing just a little higher, will I think make a huge difference.

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2 Comments

  1. First off…
    1-Who says you’re done becoming who you are going to become?
    2-Either you want to accomplish something “great” or you want to be exactly who you are now. If you want to accomplish something “great” then get out there and do it! If you want to be exactly who you are now, then love it, but by all means don’t call it “average.”
    3-Love you and think you are great now! Believe in yourself and your influence!

    Reply
  2. Craig

     /  November 8, 2011

    I totally agree with you. I’m not trying to say I’m done growing, and if my post seemed like I was saying that, I should re-write it…

    My point was when I turn inward and focus on just my own shortcomings and weaknesses compared to who I could become, then it’s frustrating, and can lead to unhappiness with my current state.

    But when I turn my focus outward, towards helping/reaching others, that’s when I become great, AND feel happy and content with helping them.

    Plus, I’ve found that when I am too focused on my weaknesses and how I should become great, or the “the some-days”, the “one-days”, and the “can’t wait til’s”, I miss out on enjoying right now NOW.

    Love life now. You only get one shot. If you are out of shape, start working out. If you are broke, get a second job and start saving. But don’t let it affect how you feel about life now.

    Reply

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