Average is the new black.

Photo courtesy of imgquotes.

Photo courtesy of imgquotes.

I have a weakness for dog quotes/pics and Andrew Rooney’s little message made me reflect on the whole concept of average. It made me realise some sobering facts:

  1. I’m okay at some things but don’t really excel in any.
  2. I’m a pretty average blogger who probably hasn’t found her niche, if one exists. And do we need a niche at all?

I know you will stampeed might reassure me and say, “Nonsense, you’re great, you’re special.” (BTW this blog post is not a fishing for compliments exercise – though who doesn’t like compliments?) Anyway, my average epiphany got me thinking… Is average okay? Is it alright to be quite good  at a few thing but genius at nothing?



Look at this amazing pic I saw on Pinterest about refusing to be average and soaring to dizzying heights. Soaring. I’d try it but it just looks like so much EFFORT. Plus those muscles are seriously scary and I don’t want to scare people.

Perhaps we were more content when we were allowed to be average. We were more relaxed certainly, before all the reaching our potential pressure to rise above everyone and excel – to achieve our dreams, become rich and famous or the very best. Maybe just doing something quite well is okay, yet it doesn’t seem to be valued in our aspirational times. Maybe putting in a modest day’s work, caring for loved ones and languishing on the sofa watching Q and A  Offspring is okay, after all.

British/French writer and philosopher Alain de Botton proposed an interesting theory in his book Status Anxiety. Status AnxietyEssentially, de Botton says that life was happier back in feudal times when we were locked into serfdom and didn’t expect to rise above our stations. We weren’t aspirational, we didn’t hanker to be lord and lady of the manor because there was just NO CHANCE it’d happen. No matter how hard you worked as a serf, you could never own any land. It was an austere life and we mightn’t have been consciously happy – working hard for the squire, getting old and bent at 25 and dying of old age at 35. Yet we weren’t consciously feeling inadequate or striving to be well above average. We might have been content. We didn’t covet celebrity because we didn’t have celebrity.

That said, Elizabeth Woodville was something of a fashion icon. She looks hot comely in that elegant ensemble…I might have coveted that, serf or no serf.

Flippancy aside, our raison d’etre in feudal times was average. It was probably average until the Industrial Revolution created the middle class and allowed some movement between the classes.

As I was contemplating what to write about for this post – preferably something illuminating and insightful – I came to the conclusion that I have no real expertise. I’ve NEVER received a trophy for anything in my entire life, even though I did sports, music and dancing as a child (I got a ribbon once but the memory is hazy). What does this reveal about me, that I am mediocre? Why do we fear mediocrity so much? It’s such an awful word – mediocre – it’s average in a bad way, but what is average in a good way…normal, typical, unexceptional?

Dusting off my average-ego I faced the fact that there is no topic on which I can eloquently waffle knowing that I am shedding light and wisdom.

Book reviews: I’d like to write these because I am the suppository of wisdom averagely clued up on books, but it occurs to me that I’m not well organised enough to read and review books with any kind of regular discipline. And there are some bloggers who do this very well – definitely not averagely.

Politics: I’d like nothing more than to weigh into political debate, lampooning our reigning politicians and government with zeal and acid wit…But over at Crikey, The Hoopla, The New Matilda – among others – they cover this very unaveragely. I’m content to read their articles, giggle and shake my head at  human folly.

Nature: I’m a HUGE fan of the natural world. As I’ve said before (probably very inappropriately), “Who needs cocaine when you can gaze at Nature and get high?” But can I translate this passion for Nature into brilliant photography? No, though I do participate in Wordless Wednesday and the Weekly Photo Challenge to try to show off showcase my talent averageness.

Urban Farming: I’ve alluded to my genius attempts in the vegie patch in Transgender Hen. I’ll leave you today with proof of my teetering on the brink of below-averageness with these before and after pics of my amazing deficient ability. I took a photo of a recently purchased hydrangea last Spring as it sat resplendently in a pot on our deck: potted beauty This is that same hydrangea recently, after I released it into nature and dirt and soil….so it would die flourish. But before you dis me completely, grab a microscope and examine the photo carefully. Do you see a minute green shoot? Not HOPELESS after all – just the wrong side of average!IMG_1326Maybe I’ve come at this from the wrong angle.  Maybe it’s the trying, the effort that counts…perhaps that’s good for us. The trying. We like to rise above average and shine a little even if the end result is a bit averagey.

Over to you. Are you a bit, very or below average? And are you cool with your this? (Or maybe you’re a little bit genius?)

Linking today with Essentially Jess and IBOT. Joining Grace for FYBF

46 thoughts on “Average is the new black.

  1. There is more pressure now, certainly. And a belief that if you don’t excel, or become a star, it’s because of something you didn’t do, or some failure on your part, rather than there just being limited space at the top.

  2. I found this post thought provoking and far above average. And really, who decides if we’re great? Who are we living for? If what you do in life makes you happy then you are great and exceptional. A lot of people who set their sights on reaching that next rung of the ladder are never happy because once they reach a goal there is always another one. Who cares what anyone thinks of your blog? If you like it you win.

  3. Great post! I’m somewhat niche-less as well so completely get where you’re coming from and as for average… yes, but I wish I wasn’t – except on the weight front!

  4. I much prefer to be ‘averagey’ than to stand out in anything. I’m a little bit okay at a lot of stuff, and that’s the way I like it!

  5. Hi! I agree, pressure to excel is a first world luxury problem that many of us have. When times are really tough, you find your inner grit and realise you have everything you need. And average is enough. Better than average is a bonus. The world operates on a bell-curve. There will always be A+s and Fs, but most of us are right in the middle, most of the time.

  6. The striving to be better, to achieve dreams is really anti-contentment I reckon. It is good to do what we love, because we love it, because we get lost in it, not because we rise to ‘the top’ by doing it. And there’s a whole lot of contentment to be had in ‘average’, ‘ordinary’ things, now that we aren’t living the lives of serfs and have a reasonable level of comfort in this first world. While I also struggled with having any sort of authority or expertise to write on anything, I also think it is writing on what is real, our successes, failures etc that resonates with most people.

  7. Great post! Exactly what I need to read today! Status anxiety is increasingly becoming an issue when we look at social media’s play in it. That Pinterest photo? See, that to me is very 90’s, when everyone had to strive and climb the corporate ladder and now the mentality is starting to do the rounds again.

    • Very true Grace. And all that striving and climbing is so exhausting and when we achieve the ‘goal’, we’re not content (we just see the next rung!)

  8. Wonderful, wonderful post from a far from average blogger! What’s wrong with fishing for compliments? I do it ALL the time! Three things made me sit up and imagine you must be reading my mind.
    This is a quote from an email my father sent me last week…
    “Being the erudite person that you are, you probably are aware of the philosopher, Alain de Botton. Being the dullard that I am I hadn’t been aware of his existence until I saw the last bit of a TV show hosted by Waleed Ali that featured de Botton as the keynote speaker. I was impressed. A de B was clever, well spoken, amusing and with an excellent vocabulary. As a result I have extracted two books, from our local library, written by the above gentleman, both are his philosophical treatise on a number of disparate subjects.”

    …encouraging me to read de Botton and now here you are quoting him!
    Secondly, Scotto and I were discussing the other day what our individual “raison d’etre” was; sadly mine has become my blog (apart from the kids and animals… and him of course).
    Thirdly, yesterday I very nearly wrote a post called, “Two Minute Noodles- the New Black”. (It wasn’t about two minute noodles but I can’t remember what it was because it was stupid and thus the reason I didn’t write it).
    I was also thinking yesterday about writing a post about never having won anything in my life except one drama trophy at a juvenile eisteddfod. Even my stupid honours degree was second class.
    BUT… I’ve always been one to ‘have a go’, and I’m very good at blowing my own trumpet.
    I’ve begun to think that the old adage “It’s not what you know but who you know” has a great deal to do with who rises above the rest. There is recognised genuine talent but many great successes just happen to either be in the right place at the right time or know the right people.

    As far as your blog goes, I must say although I’ve enjoyed reading every single one of your posts immensely I think my favourites are the stories from your past and present. As you said, many of us don’t fit into a niche but have created our very own little ‘hole in the wall’;)
    Love ya work x

    • Yay, my fishing-for-compliments ploy worked!! Thank you for those lovely words – (*flushed with moment of narcissism*) You’re a better woman than I with your Drama trophy and fancy you having those same thoughts on blogging (we’re Siamese twins separated at birth, Pinks).

      Be warned that Alan de Botton is very heavy reading, you have to be in the right mood…I cheated a bit and watched the documentary ‘Status Anxiety’ which was a highly watchable precis of his book.

      I’m looking forward to Noodles are the New Black, it’s an intriguing metaphor! xx

  9. Hi Lee-Anne really enjoyed your blog post because I never think about the other side of the debate on average. Being an Achiever and Professional Speaker on Motivation I’m always posting inspirational and motivational ideas and photos, much like the photo that you mentioned. But the difference is that those posts aren’t encouraging others to be above average. It’s posted for those who are already above average and struggling to remain above the line and just need a micro boost to fuel their fire. The population of most countries can be considered to embrace average or mediocrity but there are those of us who want to strive for more. There’s nothing wrong with being average just as there’s nothing wrong with trying to be above average. It only becomes an issue when you try to drag someone average kicking and screaming to be above average – and likewise when you have an above average person being beaten down to average level. And there’s a lot of beating down going on – especially here in Australia. We’re a nation that loves to help people rise to the middle. While I get that it’s a lot easier to remain average, we need both types of people to keep the balance in society. Everything around us right now was invented by someone who was above average. Average isn’t the new black it’s the norm and always will be, but that shouldn’t prevent anyone from wanting to strive for more.

    • Thanks for dropping by AJ – I hear you! I understand it’s important for many individuals to strive to be above average and achieve their potential, as long as it works. And you are right, society needs excellence to improve, especially in the areas of medical science and art.

      I was just being a little flippant and tossing ideas around – playing with the whole notion of average and what makes us happy. 🙂

  10. I think we all fall victim to what I mentioned in a recent post, comparing our messy interiors with other peoples shiny exteriors (especially social media exteriors). I think the odd break from the rabbit hole and a red wine with a friend is very therapeutic. BTW, ask your offspring if you’re average…… 🙂

  11. I think as long as we’re all a bit mediocre there’s room for us to grow and change how we think and what we do. I’ve always been about average but you know one day I might excel at something, until then I will enjoy being a jack of all trades, master of none! BTW, have to say you’re above average in my books! Em – also visiting as part of #teamIBOT

  12. I’ve definitely had these thoughts run through my head, especially when it comes to being an ‘expert’ in something which I am not. I must admit though, and my post from yesterday will show, that I have a hard time with just mediocre…I get bored easily and need to challenge myself all the time. Great post by the way, love your writing.

    • Good luck with your new audio blog, Eva – an ingenious idea which I’m sure you’ll be distinctly un-mediocre in!! (My grammar has gone downhill in this post) 😉

  13. I’m okay at some things but don’t really excel in any – either and I haven’t found my niche in 7years – I’m very eclectic and random .
    I agree don’t compare and don’t worry about expectations of others – only your own personal ones.

  14. I think we are all average if we are compering ourselves to someone else. But if we’re just being the best person we can be, that we are nothing but average. I’m probably very average, if not below at most things. But I’m bloody brilliant at being me, and so I’ll be happy with that.

  15. If I had any expertise, THIS TOPIC is it. If I were less average and had ambitions to go to university, I could write my thesis on this topic. But I can’t be arsed getting a degree, so I have “Mediocrity Activist” on my Twitter bio and wrote this post instead: http://twitchycorner.com/index.php/2013/05/07/mediocre-the-scourge-of-today/ . Hope you don’t mind me putting that here, it’s just so incredibly topical.

    PS What is your twitter handle? Couldn’t find it and your Twitter widget doesn’t appear to be working.

    • Hello Twitchy, I’m not surprised my Twitter widget doesn’t work (HOPELESS at technology…well below average!) It’s @Lee_AnneWalker *Off to read your post*

  16. I have to agree with you – the opposite of average is discontentment. Having said that, I think it’s okay to strive to be good at something. There’s nothing though that can give us natural talent for something except our genes… and let’s face it, most of us just don’t have ’em.
    So rather than ask ourselves if we’re happy being average, I think we should just ask, are we happy. What else really matters, after all?
    P.S. Bravo on being a GREAT BLOGGER, Lee-Anne!!!!! 😉

  17. So true…contentment and being yourself. Don’t compare your self with anyone else. We are who we are and at times can better ourselves but that is not worth any angst…..rather strive to be content.

  18. You are so totally not average at all!!! Mind you I do think the saying ‘average in the new black’ is pretty awesome! Coming from a totally different perspective, as a primary school teacher I wouldn’t say anyone in my class is average – they are all special and incredible in so many ways! We are all good at such different things and not one thing is more important than another! 🙂 xxx

  19. Pingback: A little tableau of trivial importance. | Is it just me?

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