Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Average Joe

I think I'm pretty average. I imagine you think you're pretty average, too. Most of us do.

When Lea was a baby I remember describing her progress as "Right on track. Average." My mother hit the roof. She couldn't imagine why I would say such a horrible thing about my baby. It wasn't such a horrible thing. Average isn't bad, it's, well, average.

By its very definition, most of us are average.


This is so dissatisfying.

We all want to be special. We all want to be remarkable. I may have offended you when I implied that you were probably average. You're probably not, really. Not you! But me? Yeah. (Heck, sometimes I find myself WISHING for average...) Because we all want to beat this curve. We all want to be that 2% that is definitely superior. Or at LEAST the 14% that is probably superior. We all want to be special.

I think people who are constantly reminding us of how special they are are usually just trying to convince themselves. Those who are truly awesome don't need to tell us so. We know.

It's not such a bad thing to want to be in that 16%. We should always strive to be better, I suppose. If we settled for average - well, I guess that would be pretty dull. I'm not implying that we should ever become complacent. Just, maybe, that we shouldn't look on 'average' with such disdain.

We all have our gifts. The bell curve isn't as straightforward as it appears. We fall at different points along the spectrum in different aspects of our selves; positioning ourselves very low in some aspects of self and much higher in others. In the end, though, it all - um - averages out.

When I was teaching, I told my students that I didn't want their grades to align perfectly on the bell curve. I wanted a lot of A's and few if any F's. I felt like, if I was teaching the material well, the curve should look more like a slope than a bell. Usually it worked out that way, too. But there was one test that I wrote - and I administered this same test almost 20 different times to 20 different sets of students - and each time - each time - the results shook out into a perfect bell curve. When I recorded a lot of C's, a few B's and D's and only a couple A's and F's into my grade book, I hated that test. But when I plotted all of those scores on a graph and saw that curve appear - it made me feel really good about my test-writing abilities. But then I would wonder about my teaching abilities. If I was truly teaching the material well, shouldn't there be more A's? The answer is, of course, no. A C isn't a bad grade. It's an average grade.

And average is, well, most of us.

Average grades, average looks, average income, average level of talent or ability - average.

So here's to the average Joe. May we stop beating ourselves up while we continue to strive. And by we, I of course mean me. You're probably way above average. But if you're not? Well, welcome to the club. It's a big one. And here's to ya.

(apparently my ability to get the whole image to display is below average...)

31 comments:

Traci said...

Tammy,
If you qualify as average then I gladly embrace that moniker. I am average! Yea! I am average!

SparkleFarkle said...

On days when I make comparing myself to others and not allowing myself to measure up (<-- WHEW! Mouthful!) be my prioity, it will result in a strange ringing in my ears. Thanks to you, I now know what that is: that dang bell curve!

Badass Geek said...

In my opinion, striving for the average is nothing to be ashamed about.

Brandy said...

A "C" is only acceptable in my house when I know there has been exceptional effort put forth. The teen just couldn't catch onto spanish & even with a tutor he squeaked by with a "C". I was okay with it b/c I know he tried. Now we may have the same situation with physics. Although I do blame the school for that since they put him into physics 1st semester and Trig 2nd semester. Duh.

Anyway, we always strive to be better than average which definitely accounts for some of the stresses in my life. ~sigh~

Maybe that's why the hell I can't sleep!

Lesley said...

somedays....being happy with average isn't such a bad thing....like today...I'm stoked that my house is just averagely clean...

Pam said...

I'm not sure when being average got such a bad wrap, but I can honestly say that striving to be perfect all the time is the cause of major amounts of stress in HS all across the country. Some intrinsic motivation to strive for your own personal best is a good thing, but the pressure is external and the goal is not attainable, I think we cross the line into toxic stress. No one can be exceptional at everything. We all need to know our strenghts and the areas in which we are average. There is no shame in that.

Twincerely,Olga said...

stoppin by from SITS!!! Great blog! I am now following too

MiMi said...

I'm not average!! And I never have to tell anyone that because they know I'm not average. I'm spectacularly AVERAGE. So there. : ) You are too, by the way!

otin said...

My middle name is Joe! Just average Joe!!!!!

Simon said...

Pam has beat me to it with her remark. Ambition is understandably regarded as being a Good Thing, but let’s face it, what we really want from life is happiness, or at least contentment, and I would define ambition as being in a perpetually dissatisfied state.

I feel sympathy for ambitious, high-aiming people. It means that they will never be entirely contented, and will always be striving for something more, while an unambitious person will be happy at being what they are – average.

FranticMommy said...

If walking upright, ABOVE ground is average..I'll take it.

Becky said...

In this crazy ass house we aim for average...

Hit 40 said...

OH F!! If your grades are a bell curve...

OMG!@! will you be getting some nasty phone calls and a trip to visit your principal.

My grades better be more A's than anything else. Sad but true!!

Average is a bitter pill for most to swallow....

just look how hard balloon boys dad tried to break out of average.

blueviolet said...

You my dear, are far above average.

I've always been comfortable being average. It's safe, I don't stand out, it's anonymous, and I like that.

Now if we're talking weight...that's another story....lol

kys said...

Average is all right with me. And it means that someone on the beach will always be fatter than me. (But many someones will be thinner so scrap that analogy.)

The Grown-Up Child said...

So funny, Tammy. I was always trying to claw my way into that 'average' category. So here's to me! I think I did it. ;)

A Fist Full of Dandelions said...

I'll take average. There are days I know I'm way above average, and days I know I am way below average. They all eventually even out and I'm left being average!

The Redhead Riter said...

I have a few things for you on my blog :o)

http://theredheadriter.blogspot.com

mama-face said...

Awww...you are a teacher? I love you even more now.

I am the spokesperson for averageness. You know it.
And sometimes it's hard to even suck it up and remain average.

WhisperingWriter said...

I love this.

I've never had a problem with average.

I know I was an average student. It was math that got me. I didn't see the point in trying to figure out what X was.

The Redhead Riter said...

I have a few things for you on my blog :o)

http://theredheadriter.blogspot.com

scrappysue said...

amen to that! i love being average - it's like having medium brown hair - for life!

Tonya said...

Average isn't so bad - it's comfortable.
Congrats on your recent blog awards.

Tonya
www.tuesdaysattonyas.blogspot.com

Thena said...

Stopping by from SITS. Hope your day gets better. We all have our grumpy days and yes sometimes reading other blogs help. Either we laugh at some, or some helps us to realize it could be worse. And if all else fails, chocolate doesn't do to bad either. lol

parentingBYdummies said...

Soooo, I should not take every opportunity to remind you that I'm awesome? Grrreat, I'm doing that all wrong. Please don't write any more honest posts of this nature, I can't handle the truth!

Sandy said...

I think most of us have something we are better than average at but most of us, as you said, are average.

I don't have a problem with that. Trying to always be above average just causes stress. There are enough things in life we can't control that cause that.

carma said...

Being average sucks. There, I said it :D

Oh, now reading the comments I see that I am in the minority on this one- pls disregard ;-)

Anita said...

I can relate to the average Joe, the problem is, few people want to be average.......it's not something we aspire to.......it's a hard one, even when you know it's true.

Unknown Mami said...

But Tammy, I always set the curve. I'm a good test taker.

Ginger said...

It's horrible when the crive is more of a cliff - starting on the F side and plunging to the A's. It makes me feel like a horrible teacher, yet, it is a common chart at my school. We can't all be horrible, right?

This trend is starting to make me worry about our country. I sound like an old fuddy duddy when I say it, but seriously.. Apparently it's "cool" to not care.

Vivienne said...

Well, we know you are a better than average writer, for sure.

I think that all of us have many parts to measure. Talents, gifts, habits, physical things... we all fall into below, average and above. It just depends on what we're measuring. You are absolutely right: average is not bad.
:)