Being Average Part 2

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Motives

 

Kids these days grow up learning that they are special, extraordinary- that there is no limit to what they can do or who they can become.

According to the book The Narcissism Epidemic, society is suffering the consequences. Gen Ys and beyond are notorious for being out for themselves, lacking commitment, and being narcissistic. They are so important and special in their own eyes that they feel the need to tell the whole world the intimate details of every moment of their lives on Facebook and Twitter.

The truth is that most of us are really only just average- that’s what average means, applying to the majority. If everyone is extraordinary then extraordinary is simply the new average.

What I want to know is what’s wrong with being average anyway? You got two hands and two legs, that’s all you need. Now use ’em!

The key isn’t in being extraordinary, it’s in doing extraordinary things even though you are just some average person.

Kids shouldn’t be taught how unique they are, rather that they are no more or less special than anyone else. They, like everyone else on the planet, have limitations and flaws. The beauty is that they don’t have to be special- they merely need to dive in and immerse themselves fully in the ride of their lives. And somehow in the process they’ll forget to even bother about whether or not they’re special.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Second Chance

Mr. Greenwood choked on a chicken bone last spring. Ambulance had to be called and everything. He could have died. But he didn’t. Another chance at life. Make the most of it, Mr. Greenwood. But he just kept status quo.

Around the same time Sarafina cut her leg wide open, bled out of her femoral artery. The medics got to her in time. She walks with a limp now, but it doesn’t bother her. She decided not to waste her second chance so sold her condo, car and time share in Mexico, cashed in her RRSPs and moved to a town in Costa Rica. A small resort there gives her room and board in exchange for cooking and cleanings. She loves it. Mornings and evenings are very busy, but mid-day and late nights she sits at the beach or spends time with the Indigenous women in the village a short distance away.

Every year Mr. and Mrs. Greenwood go to that small resort in Costa Rica to spend a week of vacation time. They have never met Sarafina as they don’t bother talking with the help. This year, however, there will be plenty of interaction.

The Greenwoods arrive on a particularly hot Sunday afternoon. Eduardo has picked them up and taken them to the resort. Sarafina is just coming back from the village…

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12 Comments

Filed under Creativity, Writing

12 responses to “Being Average Part 2

  1. Great post, Zoe. We do have a generation that focuses mainly on themselves. I’ve heard it called the Entitlement Generation. Is Generation Y another term for the entitlement generation or is it the next one? How dare someone name our generations! Ha! How would you like being called a Baby Boomer?

    We don’t have to be marvelous in our own eyes or in the eyes of the world. We need only be available and empowered.

    I like the Second Chance story. Sarafina simplified her life after recovering from her life-threatening wound and became part of a working community, while Mr. Greenwood was unmoved by his near-death experience. The rest is left to our imagination. One could write a novel based on this theme. Blessings to you…

    • Yes, Gen Y and the Entitlement Generation are one and the same. It’s interesting how the pendulum swings over time. Previous generations focused heavily on duty and responsibilityand considered personal happiness ‘irrelevant’. These days it’s the opposite. I’m waiting for the pendulum to start moving again…
      I like your phrase “working community”. Haven’t heard that before. Will be thinking about that…

  2. Today, I differ, Zoe 🙂 Where I teach, children’s expectations are not too high, but too low. They expect very little other than how to get to the next level on their computer game. Motivation, of children and everyone else, hinges on the very fact that none of us is average: that each is a complicated bar chart of abilities and failings which falls anywhere but on the 50th centile; and that if we major on our strengths we can be extraordinary, whether we have an audience perceiving that or not. Famous, no; extraordinary, always. In legion different ways.

    • “if we major on our strengths we can be extraordinary” vs. “they don’t have to be special- they merely need to dive in and immerse themselves fully in the ride of their lives”.
      I wonder what you’d end up with if you took each of these underlying assumptions and thought them out to their best and worst possible outcomes. In reality, the best scenario is probably a mix of both- each at the perfect time: use your strengths as much as you can, but just roll up your sleeves and get right in there when life calls you to do something different.
      Glad for your counterpoint.

  3. I read The Narcissism Epidemic a few months ago and discussed it on SLTW. If you’re interested:

    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/look-at-me/

    When we start to care more about WHO we are, rather than about who others THINK we are, the world will settle into a better groove.

  4. Love it! I find it difficult not to tell my children how amazing they are, but in watching them grow and become their amazing selves, I realize that we are, each one of us, amazing. In this way, I try to show them that they make their life count by the choices they make, and what they do with their amazing-ness. And that they must honor the amazing-ness in others, as well.

    • Honouring the amazing-ness in others will act as a buffer against narcissism.
      So many choices we make daily- each can lead us closer to or further away from making our lives count…

  5. jesswords10

    I see your point about the upcoming generation being very entitled. I witness it in many of the new employees at work, they have a VERY different idea of responsibility and work ethic. But I worry about teaching the opposite too. If we taught our students they were no different than anyone else, would we end up with a creepy society like in Brave New World, or a weird infrastructure like The Giver? I know, not immediately, but hey, it’s late and that’s where my mind is going. Don’t take their creepy pills!

    • Thanks for coming and joining the discussion.
      I think it’s the overemphasis on being special that is at the root of the entitlement issues. The ‘special self’ is at the centre of importance. Shifting our emphasis to something else being at the centre will make all the difference. Now, what should that something else be? There’s a whole other discussion 🙂

  6. I love ‘Second Chance’ – wicked. The imagination runs riot!

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