Saturday, December 8, 2007

Being "Average"

Wow, I can see from the date what a long time it's been since I logged on and blogged. I didn't realise quite how long until I came on today. The last few weeks have been very busy with the activities I blogged about last time, plus some more nerve-wracking extras. In this last week, we've had both a visit from the homeschool inspector and a rental inspection of the house. So I've been writing the obligatory homeschool report for Logan and Emma, and making the house as sparkly clean as I could. Whew, I'm glad both visits are now over.

I felt as if it's all been taking a toll on my brain, too. I went to a final Wednesday night Bible study group I've been attending and found the discussion hard to enter into after the busy week. While other people seem to think of intellectual and well-thought-out comments about theological subjects on the spot, I found my mind was empty. And I've never been comfortable with that empty feeling.

For as long as I can remember, I've been in the habit of setting high standards for myself, raising the bar at all times. I've always wanted to set myself something fresh, unique, impressive or helpful to write or say. And from books I've studied and people I've listened to, I was under the impression that this is how people are supposed to live. So when I reach deep within and find nothing, I feel lousy about myself. Like Yogi Bear, I imagined we're all supposed to strive to be, "Smarter than the average bear."

But over these last few days I've been thinking along different lines. I've pondered the question, "What's wrong with being average, anyway?" The word "average" gets its name for a reason. It's because the greatest percentage of the population fits into this category. So what's wrong with being no brighter than most people? I'm all in favour of making the most of the gifts we have, but feel I've totally wasted time over the years by digging deep for what hasn't ever been planted!

In fact, I've come up with an advantage to being average. I like to write books that as many people as possible will read and enjoy. Where do the majority people fit? Into the "average" population. So being "average" myself might make the stories more enjoyable on a certain level. A prize-winning genius might not necessarily be in touch with "normal" people as much as people like me, who are "average" ourselves.

Our world encourages us to aim for the stars and be all we can possibly be. Both Christian and secular circles do this. This way of thinking has its benefits but maybe people like me make the mistake of being down on ourselves for not being more than we can be. It's a mistake to think that the "average" things we can do aren't as important as the high and lofty things that others do. A fellow might submit a painstaking essay on existentialism, then go home to kick the football with his son. Who is to say that the football kicking isn't as great a deed as writing the essay?

It's high time somebody wrote a book entitled something like, "Enjoy Being Average." It has come to be a critical word. When my husband isn't impressed with something, he often says, "That was a bit average." Does this sort of casual comment reflect that we've turned into a nation of super-achievers, or would-be-super-achievers? I'll be happy to let down the measuring stick, at least for awhile.


  1. I think you've hit upon some important points here. We should also remember that "average" is very subjective. Back in my high school days at Art and Design, I thought my art was average. When I began juggling I went to a club filled with some of the top jugglers in the world. Again, I felt average. Some days we need to step away from our peers to realize we are good at what we do. In your Bible study group, I am sure you've had days where you made wonderful insightful comments. That doesn't lose meaning just because you were tired one day and couldn't think of anything to say. We've all been there.
    In answer to your question, yes, Marina did turn down the role of Mary. Now she is too old to be in the play. It must be a family trait. Last year Chase turned down the role of Joseph because he didn't feel ready. He at least had a second chance. This year he will be Joseph!
    Peace and Laughter,

  2. My husband and I often contend that we are "good" at a lot of things but not "exceptional" at anything. But you know what? It's ok to be that way. I am glad we aren't the only ones to realize it. I sometimes wonder though if that is an attitude that is holding my kids back because I am not pushing them to be exceptional? I guess we're happy the way we are, so they will be too. Right? :o)

  3. Great points!

    Sometimes I feel like my son gets more pressure then needed just because he is named after his genius of a grandfather who has over 150 patents for his inventions. (My son feels like he's to live up to the name.)

    That's another thing that makes unschooling work so well. There's no pressure. You explore where and how you like.

    I can understand your concerns about high school. I think about it quite a bit. My oldest is 17 and she was a top student (not homeschooled). She speaks four languages and was taking college courses in 11th grade. When her friends died in an auto accident, she dropped out of school. She didn't stop learning though, just the pressures of school were removed. She will be starting the Fire Academy in January and graduating from there instead of high school right after she turns 18.

    Another point is that they tested her for college. She aced the test. So what really would have been the point of her staying there the last year and a half? Her SAT score was extremely high, also. I'm not 'bragging' just pointing out that there's so many ways to learn and the set standards do not apply to all.

    My next child (step) is in 10th grade. For her, school is a social event. She's smart but doesn't care to trouble herself to do the work. She's always been that way and I have no clue how to motivate her. She's now in virtual school as a form of punishment from her father. A simple do the work or have no social life. This has been the first time she has ever accomplished. She only did three classes with an average A-B which she almost threw away because she didn't 'feel' like taking the finals. I have no clue if she will ever do anything.

    For my youngest, I learn what's expected for each grade and as long as he stays ahead of each level, I leave him to learn as he pleases. I couldn't stop him from learning if I tried. He has no problem learning whats required for whatever he wishes to accomplish.

    So I'd suggest just talking to your son and seeing how he would like to continue. Chances are he's already above or at least on the same level as the 'average' so just ask him how he would like to address each skill ie: timed tests, dated science projects, month to do research project...

    I recently spoke to a high school teacher who told me she has done her job well if her students graduate being able to write a five paragraph paper, sign their name, and balance a checkbook. If you use that as average, above average is easy to acheive.