What is average? A social construct that seeks to understand the commonalities between people.
In math you take all the numbers–from the highest to the lowest–add them all together and divide the total sum by the quantity of numbers in the list. The number that you’re left with is the average, typically somewhere near the median (middle number in the list) unless you have significant outliers.
When we do this with people, though, we allow or perhaps even encourage the higher performers to under-perform and make the lower performers feel worthless, insignificant, inept and thus continue to under-perform as a fulfillment of a self-fulfilling prophesy forced upon them. Many of us, if we are honest, have fallen on either end of the spectrum and found ourselves failing to live up to our fullest potential.
In high school I wanted to be average. I didn’t want people to know that I got straight A’s and I especially didn’t want to be known as the one who broke the curve. So I pretended like I didn’t really care about school, I talked about how little time I spent doing homework, and I avoided talking about grades. However, I began to realize that the more I talked about being average the less effort I put into my schoolwork and the less I learned in the long run. I began to realize that the closer I got to average the less I actually wanted to be average.
What is ordinary/typical? A similar social construct that seeks to categorize a group of people based on a similar trait such as age, gender, or race.
Television and movies often depict the ordinary, the stereotype, of a certain group. Teens are depicted as rebellious, twenty somethings go out and drink and hook up regularly, blondes are ditzy, and people with glasses are intellectual or trying to appear intellectual, and the list goes on.
We are not created to be average or ordinary, so to endeavor to be such is to abandon our true, intentionally created selves. We were created uniquely that we might work together to form a whole with each of us having both strengths and weaknesses complementing the strengths and weaknesses of others. The world needs doctors and sanitation workers and everything in between in order to function fully. If we all sought to be ordinary-to be doctors and lawyers for example-we would have trash everywhere, streets that are worn out, cars that don’t work, and more.
In my journey I have come to realize that I don’t want to be average or ordinary. I want to be uniquely me–to do life the way that I want and that God wants for me. After graduation my friends were looking forward to going to university and moving out of their parents’ home while I was looking forward to serving on a mission trip to Greece. When I dropped out of Culinary school to go to Bible college people were constantly asking me what I wanted to do and could do with a Christian Studies and I didn’t have an answer I simply replied that I felt like it was what God was leading me to do.
I turned twenty one this year and while many of my friends went out on a “twenty one run” I was working on paperwork to serve as a Missionary Associate. At twenty two and twenty three I am going to be serving in missions while many of my friends are going to be starting careers, buying houses, getting married, and/or having kids.
Being other than ordinary isn’t about being more or less than others, but rather it’s about seeking to be the best you that you can be, to be everything God created and intended for you to be.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (vv. 12-14, NIV).