The ecstasy of being ordinary

I read a really interesting article recently here about our resistance to ordinariness. The comment was that being ordinary is something that we have come to distain and avoid in this crazy world of celebirty and achievement. It was something I can relate to well having been plagued somewhat by this phenomenon all my life. Only since having children have I been able to let it go somewhat but I often think of how my life hasn’t panned out the way I anticipated it would.

I thought I was going to be ‘someone’. My grandfather constantly told me that I would be famous. That he’d be watching me on the ‘big screen’ one day. That my destiny of celebrity was inevitable. While doubtful that Hollywood was ever going to welcome me with open arms, I too assumed that I would experience success and continue my pursuit of high achievement I has so comfortably begun in my adolescence. I had a childhood dream of being extraordinary. Didn’t we all?

Well I wouldn’t say that objective success has occurred. But what I have discovered is that actually, I am someone. I am someone to a select number of people but mean more to them despite little objective achievement. To these people it wouldn’t matter what I had done or I do.

Ordinary doesn’t mean mediocrity. In fact, in having children, I’ve done the least original thing in my whole life. But, interestingly, I don’t feel like I’m a mediocre mother. I’m not the best by any means. I’m not superb. But I know I’m not mediocre.

I teach. Mundane. Ordinary. But I don’t feel mediocre when I’m teaching. I feel like I fly.

My marriage isn’t mediocre. The relationships with my family are not mediocre. What I share with my friends is not mediocre. The small holidays my family enjoy each year, while not wildly exciting (too hard with two young children!) are not mediocre.

To me.

We all want uniqueness. I know that. But what I figure is that this uniqueness for me is not going to be found doing something that marks success in a cliched way. It will be doing and finding something that makes me feel amazing.

Feeling part of the ‘ordinary’ has actually enabled me to gain important perspective about problems and in doing so, actually provided me comfort. When I was struggling through the first few months of my second son’s life (so different to my first) I found it helpful to remind myself of the thousands of women (or parents) who would be experiencing something similar or even worse at the exact same time. This enabled me to shed some of the dark gloom that had fallen so completely over me. It made me shake my feelings of self-pity that were keeping me back from developing a relationship with my son.

I felt¬†liberated when I read this article because I realised again I was ‘ordinary’ in my once desire to extraordinary. That made me feel less lame somehow…

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November 2008
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