The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

The Average Person

Most of the people I know would consider themselves average. A generally accepted definition of “average” is something not out of the ordinary. Is that really so bad? I am a student of words and believe that a word can carry many responsibilities and inferences based on how it used, the tone of voice used when spoken and the context. In our current society, we expect everyone to excel beyond our wildest dreams – our favorite teams to pound their opponents into the turf, our favorite shows to win every award for which they are nominated, our children to talk at 9 months, read at 16 months, solve algebraic equations at age 3 and win the Nobel prize by the age of 5.

There’s too much pressure to be excellent. I used to harbor a deep-seated fear of my own mediocrity, but over the years, I have embraced the fact that I am not a stunningly beautiful woman, nor am I a wart-laden, socially inept ogre with a unibrow. I’m average looking. And I can live with that. In fact, there are times I long to be average – just another one of the teeming masses. I am what they call a “plus-size gal” and would give a kidney to be an “average” size. I’d like to be part of the average American family – with two parents, a house, 2 car garage, adorable children and a purebred dog. But instead I am a single mother of a toddler who works full time to barely make ends meet. And if the truth were to be told, I would venture to guess that there are more like me that would like to admit! I think there can be found a certain joy in being average.

If I push myself to achieve excellence all the time, I will push myself right into an early grave! Sure, there are times that I must be above average – parenting, my work, my writing – but sometimes, it’s OK to be just average. Do I want to spend an extra 15 minutes hand washing the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher because I want them to look excellent as they sit in my kitchen cabinet? Nope. Do I want to lose valuable play time with the Pie because I desire outstandingly shiny floors? Um…uh-uh. Do I agree to lose important sleep time in exchange for a spectacularly ironed shirt? Hell, no!

These days, every institution – from schools, corporations, lemonade stands – touts their goals of excellence. If all those entities are so excellent, where’s the balance? Where’s the enterprise? I remember when Avis started advertising that they try harder…there was no need to lie and say they were number one or the best. They knew they had things to work on and admitted it. I respect that. Ito me, it takes great courage to embrace ordinariness. I don’t mean to withdraw into oblivion, but to tread surely in a forward motion. You know what they say: The tall nail is the first to get hammered.

Being a perfectionist can practically paralyze you into believing that nothing is ever good enough. But when it really matters, some things just have to remain average. What a burden it must be to feel you have to be perfect all the time – perfectly groomed, perfectly articulate and perfectly charming. But that’s a little intimidating to average people who are just trying to make it through the day without shiny floors and ironed shirts!

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September 24, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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