Ordinary and proud of it
November 16, 2012 by
Categories: Acceptance, Human

“If a man [pretends] to be great, how can he conceal his mediocrity?”–Tao Te Ching

A lot of us have a fear of being ordinary. We want to be excellent in everything we do. Often we put so much pressure on ourselves because we believe that we are living below our potential. Sometimes, we can even put a tremendous amount of pressure on others because we believe they are not living up to their potential or our expectations. This puts ourselves and those we put the pressure on in a very dangerous trap, because most of the time, we don’t have control over when we are excellent. Excellence is a subjective term which means that it is subject to change at any given moment. The definition of excellence is collectively created by the people judging any thought, act, experience, or product–including us.

By threatening the existence of excellence, I am heightening fears of being ordinary. I think the greatest fear of being ordinary means losing our uniqueness, the things that make us special, those things that make us stand out from the crowd. I really don’t think being ordinary means those things. In fact, I believe just the opposite: by being ordinary, we are being the best we can be. After all, what are we? Human.

One way to think about this is imaging a bell curve similar to the one below. In a class situation (where most of us are familiar with the phrase, “grading on the curve”), a small percentage of students will be in the failing range (indicated by being to the left of the small line on the left of the curve) and a small percentage of students will be in the excellent range (indicated by being to the right of the small line on the right). The majority of people will fall somewhere in between.

I think it’s similar with us. Sometimes we will stray, sometimes purposefully move, into the excellence category. Sometimes we will be in the failing category (sometimes our failures are quite spectacular). Most of the time, however, we are going to be somewhere in the middle, and that is OK. We can celebrate our successes, we can mourn our failures, and we can be comfortable with being ordinary. In fact, taking into account all of our successes and failures and everything in between, we are going to land in the middle. This is being ordinary. Think of it this way: would you rather someone loved and accepted you when you are at your most successful, or at your most ordinary?

I think one of the dangers of this perspective occurs when we compare ourselves to others. Everyone is ordinary in their own way. I mean that with the utmost respect. Everyone’s average is different. It’s what makes the world diverse and offers all of us a richness of experience. So being ordinary is being your own personal ordinary. You don’t lose your uniqueness or those things that make you special. You get to keep all of those because they are a part of who you are.

Image by jendo

It is my hope that by saying, “Be ordinary!” that I’m not understood to be implying that we should degrade ourselves or should see ourselves as horrible people. What I am trying to imply is that we should be grounded in humility, recognizing our weaknesses and our strengths, and accepting that we have both. That is one of the joys of being human. We need to give ourselves room to enjoy all aspects of life and not be consumed with pressure.

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One Thought About Ordinary and proud of it

  • April 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm Reply

    … // Sorry to have some differences. English s used to go fast. Sorry again for that. First of all, ctgrnaos to the woman who have come first in the competitive exam.Nothing more from me for her!……………………………………………………………. Then, what shd other law colleges do ? To produce legal idiots or mediocres? Y this discrimination among institutions created by Govt itself ?//வணக கம ம டம , என ன ட ய பத வ க க இவ வளவ ம க க யத த வம க ட த த ம க ந ண ட ப ன ன ட டம எழ த யம க க ம தல ல உங கள க க என ன ட ய நன ற கள . ஆங க லம எனக க சரளம க வர த . ஓரளவ க க ப ர ந த க ள ள மட ட ம ம ட ய ம . அப பட , ந ன ப ர ந த க ண ட வக ய ல க ஞ சம க ஞ சம க உங கள க க பத ல ச ல க ற ன .ம க க யம க, இந தப பத வ னத சட டக கல வ பக கம ம ணவர கள மற ற ம ப ற ற ர ன ப ர வ ப பட வ ண ட ம என க ற ந க க ல எழ தப பட டத .அந தக கண ண ட டத த ல ப ர க கவ ம .தங கள ட யக க ள வ இவர ல ,தம ழன ன தல எப பட ந ம ர ந தத என பத க ம .அதற க ந ன பத ல கட ச ப ர வ ல ச ல ல இர க க ற ன .//2008 -ல நடந த சட டக கல ல ர வன ம ற , தம ழர கள க க தல க க ன வ உண ட க யத . ஆன ல , இப ப ழ த அத சட டம பய ன ற, ச ல வ த வ யதர ஷ ன தம ழன த தல ந ம ரச ச ய த ர க க ற ர !//சட டக கல ல ர வன ம ற ய , அவ வளவ எள த க ய ர ம மறந த வ ட ம ட ய த என பத த ங கள அற வ ர கள . அத இந த ய அளவ ல , ஏன உலகளவ ல தம ழக ம ணவர கள க க எப பட ஒர தல க க ன வ உண ட பண ண யத என பத ய ம அற வ ர கள .அப பட இல ல ய ன ல ஒர சட டக கல வ பய ல ம ம ணவன ன தந த என ற ம ற ய ல ந ன அன பவ த த வ தன ய ம , எங கள உறவ னர கள நண பர கள ன பதட டத த ய ம தங கள க க ச ச ல லக கடம ப பட ட ள ள ன .

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