There's Nothing Wrong With Finding Out You're Completely 'Average'

by Vivian Cheng
Liubov Burakova

If someone called you “average,” you probably wouldn't take it as a compliment. In fact, you'd probably feel a bitter sense of inadequacy.

Our generation is obsessed with where we fit in relation to “the average.” There's this notion that being average means being a nobody. Society has attached negative connotations to the term “average.” It's become a sly insult that implies someone isn't good enough. It implies someone is dull or painfully undistinguished.

I mean, who wants to be ordinary when he or she can be extraordinary?

The desire to be better than average is present everywhere. We aspire to be accomplished, talented and intelligent. We constantly fret about our intelligence, appearance and personality, and how they compare when we're pitted against a large sample of people. This societal concept of average is a powerful and insidious model that has influenced how many of us define our worth and identity.

We quantify our abilities by measuring ourselves to the average because we wrongly assume this will give us valid results. We gain a false sense of confidence and pride in knowing we are better than average, and we feel despair when we fall below the “average.”

We validate ourselves by means of comparison. But this can not only be self-destructive, but it's also damaging for wholesome learning.

The problem is, being average is an arbitrary concept. What does "average" mean? What are you comparing yourself to?

Statistically, the average is the central tendency. However, this value can change, depending on the situation. The “average” is highly contextualized. While you may be above par in one context, you may also fall flat in another.

Another issue is, “average” doesn't encompass human characteristics like communication, critical thinking and problem-solving. They can not only vary from situation to situation, but they can also be very difficult to quantify numerically.

“Average” doesn't reflect your values, life story or ambitions.These are the qualities that make individuals unique.

The perception of “average” diminishes an individual's personality to a one-dimensional characteristic that disregards the many facets of one's personality. This is not only dangerous, but it is also demeaning to the complexity of the human condition.

Statistically, it's impossible for everyone to be above average. There will always be an average when you measure values across a population. A majority of people fall in the middle. It's simply a reality of life.

This isn't a good or bad thing because there is a vast array of qualities that can be measured. Everyone you meet will know something you don't. Everyone's skill levels will vary. Everyone's personality will vary.

With this being said, know that a comparison to the average can serve as a good benchmark when you're looking to improve a skill. But it should not define your self-worth, nor be the sole motivator of your actions.

You shouldn't engage in something because you want to be above average or because you want external validation. You should make choices and engage in activities because you truly enjoy them. In this way, you can grow and reach your full potential as an individual.

Average is not a negative adjective, despite the way it's commonly used. The term "average" is misunderstood. Being average is part of the human narrative.

Chances are, you'll most likely be average in many aspects of life, but you may be extraordinary in other aspects. It's OK to not have it all.

Mediocrity isn't to be ashamed of. If you know you're OK with being average at something, that's perfectly fine. If you want to become exceptional at something, dedicate time and effort to it. Channel the sentiment that everything is hard before it's easy.

We're taught to fear the thought of being average. But maybe it's time to have another look at what that means.

We have to gain awareness of the social constructs we exist in. We can't be passive receptacles of the media or other influences. We have to change our perspective, redefine what it means to be average and defy the notion of being categorically defined in a society based on arbitrary values.