Having a rough week, stuck in your cubicle and tuning in to your playlist to accomplish those sad hours? Well, we all have been through such a tough patch. No, I am not talking about the piercing heart-breaks, losses or failed expectations but rather the other kind of emotional distress which comes with a sense of worthlessness, inferiority complex or identity crisis; in short, the sense of being “average“, or “below-average” or rather a “failure“. But the word “average” has lost its connotation. How it has become synonymous to “failure” needs much more introspection and attention than a Facebook page or a YouTube video preaching “how only extraordinary people are the winners in life”.
There are over 7.2 billion people on Earth and nearly 1,000 of them stand out as “gifted” or “extraordinary” at any given time. What shall be done with the other, approximately 7,199,999,000 of us then? Are we the outcasts or do we actually drive or sustain the rest of the system? Neither. We have just made peace with the limited scopes of our lives while constantly pushing ourselves to be enumerated as “extraordinary“. The unsettling ambition, rigorous hustling, meticulous hard-work with a tinge of luck are what’s driving the rest of us. Of course, some of us never exercised the faculty of skills and labour but that doesn’t negate the universal phenomenon that each one of us is capable of something. Ultimately, it all depends on our practice and effort, but we all are born with different aptitudes and potentials. Yet, we turn amnesic and still clump people into polar opposites: good-bad, extraordinary-ordinary, winners- losers.
However, a new normalization of failures or losers have emerged- average. In this fast-paced world, where the scope of progress is continually expanding, being mediocre feels like a tag of shame. In fact, as I write this article, I want it to be good or even the best, and not just average. Well, the question arises if I am ready to put an equal effort or even more, as top-class authors put in their best-selling novels? My work may signify that I might be an amateur, a beginner or an average writer with a room full of chances for improvement. This means that my mediocrity is but the outcome of my specific efforts and not a decree to my overall existence, if I accept it positively. Furthermore, nobody on this planet can be completely extraordinary or a total loser in every aspect of life. In short, the first fact is that the most brilliant person might be as ordinary or average as others when his ambit of specialization is not concerned. Secondly, it’s wise to accept that despite all the efforts, it’s still possible that I might never become an exceptional writer because of my limited and average ability.
The culture of “exceptionalism” is so sought-after that every second video or page on social media is not only profited but the idea of framing an average person as a failure is also proliferated. There is no harm in asking people to outgrow their comfort zones and scale newer heights but there is a silent destruction in establishing parameters for being exceptional and in claiming that “living an average life is living a wrong life“, when in reality the vast majority of the world’s population is average and the idea of turning each individual into an extraordinary being itself forfeits the principle of “exceptionalism”. The projection of an average person as weak or a person of defect while extraordinary ones as the truest and perfect, is highly condemnable and arguable. Eventually, everyone shares the same fate of death and neither of the categories offers the evidence of a person to be qualified as a better human on Earth.
If you think that there’s no point in living an average life, you might want to reconsider this. Acceptance of our mediocrity opens new door of opportunities. In this great scheme of things, not everyone can stand out from the common multitudes, not all can have a worldwide influence or make an impactful position of their own, and just because of these the other 7,199,999,000 (approximately) people cannot stop living. We just take little steps in our own world to be remembered better. Each day we make a change in our own way and find pleasure in the simplest meanings of life. This way our hard-work becomes our exceptional quality and our mediocrity is metamorphosed into a process towards greater success. Yet, as the contesting humans as we are, we do not drop out of the race of exceptionalism, we try to depart in a way so that people would say, “He was a mediocre guy but lived exceptionally“.
Samra Ejaz is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Shaireen Khan
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.