In Defense Of Being Average!
It’s important to teach children the value of the ordinary things in life, and to tread between a fine line between praising genuine achievements and creating unrealistic expectations which, when they don’t realise them, will not make our children feel like failures.
We have had it drummed into our minds from an early age that we are exceptional, or that we have the potential to be. This is an appealing aspect of an egalitarian society – a meritocracy in which we can all become someone or something, if we only apply ourselves. It’s a nice idea to reach for the stars, they’re there for the taking, but the other side of it is: if we become anything other than ordinary, we need to answer haven’t we failed someone, maybe ourselves? So, it’s important to teach children the value of the ordinary things in life, and tread a fine line between praising genuine achievements and creating unrealistic expectations which, when they don’t realise them, will not make our children feel like failures.
Superheroes do not exist
As it was brilliantly put by Mark Manson-“There’s this guy, who is a world-renowned billionaire,tech genius,inventor and entrepreneur. He is athletic and talented and handsome with a jaw so chiselled, it looks like Zeus came down from Olympus and carved the man himself. This guy’s smile can melt the damn room. His charm is so thick, you can swim in it. Half of his friends were TIME’s “Man of the Year.” And the ones who weren’t don’t care because they could buy the magazine if they wanted to. When this guy isn’t jetsetting around the world or coming up with the latest technological innovation to save the planet, he spends his time helping the weak and helpless and downtrodden. This man is, you guessed it, Bruce Wayne. Also known as the Batman. And (spoiler alert) he doesn’t actually exist. He is fiction.”
It’s an interesting facet of human nature that we seem to have a need to come up with these sort of fictional heroes that personify perfection and everything we wish we could be. Medieval Europe had its tales about chivalrous knights killing dragons and saving princesses. Ancient Rome and Greece had their myths about heroes who won wars all by themselves and in some cases challenged the Gods themselves. Every other human culture is full of such fantastical stories as well.
And today, we have comic book superheroes. Take Superman. I mean, the guy is basically a God with a human body wearing a blue jumpsuit and red underpants inside-out. He is indestructible and unbeatable. And the only thing as sturdy as his physical strength is his moral fortitude. In Superman’s world, justice is always black or white, and Superman never wavers from doing what’s right. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. But the fact is, most of us are just average at most things we do. Even if you are truly exceptional at the thing — say math, or jump rope,chances are you are just average or below average at most other things. That is just the nature of life.
Every child is unique…
“Every person has something good to offer,” says Newman. “But many of us need to cultivate a more realistic self-images, one in which we recognise that it’s all right to have strengths and weaknesses in our make-up.”
Different areas of expertise need recognition,they need to be addressed, for a ballet dancer, her performance matters the most, which is her area of acclaim and success, for her it is a trophy beyond marks. For a young boy waving his bat in the air, hitting a six in the field is an accomplishment that is his exam. Colours on the palette of an artist define his existence but sordidly we appreciate the numbers,the grades, the marks. The mindset of a child awaiting the board results is encaged in stifling competitions and comparisons. Let them be free,free to choose free to excel. Each competency matters. Let’s stop teaching fish how to fly and bats how to swim. The so-called average child on the basis of academic result could be an excellent painter, dancer, sculptor, artist, writer or just a happy child. Let them explore and excel in their areas of expertise too!
Nothing wrong with being average
The time is just right to inculcate the sensibility that it’s not wrong to be average, a 60 percenter can and should not be labelled as a nobody,he is someone’s world. Let him be in a world of compassion,pleasure and above all a world that gives each one of us the freedom to choose our expression of living this life. The frantic pace at which we all have mastered the rat race of academic excellence has somewhere stifled the childhood and its innocence. Slow down, and take a few steps back to enjoy your children and their dreams. Let’s give them freedom to dream and live their fantasies even if they seem out of our thinking domains.
So, here’s to the joy of being average, unexceptional, middle of the road, whatever you want to call it. It’s time to embrace averageness and enjoy our ordinary lives. “Sometimes, success lies in the nobility of leading a good and simple life.”
The frantic pace at which we all have mastered the rat race of academic excellence has somewhere stifled the childhood and its innocence. Slow down, and take a few steps back to enjoy your children and their dreams. Let’s give them the freedom to dream and live their fantasies even if they seem out of our thinking domains.
Soumya Gulati, Dy. Director – Academic Development and Innovation, Blue Bells Group of Schools, is an ideator and resource person for national and international practices in Education. She is a much sought after Thought Leader in Education in various forums with over 27 years of experience in Education. She has authored several publications in the area of English Language. She has a Masters in English Literature from Delhi University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism, Japanese Language and a Certificate in Pedagogy of Play by Fairydust Teaching, US.