Plain, Everyday, Commonplace, Come What May
I’ve just picked up this great book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection. One of the very first ideas she introduces is that you are enough, all of the time, not by virtue of what you do, but merely by virtue of being you.
When my eyes first crossed the page, I felt like I’d read a dirty word. Enough? As in, adequate? Ordinary? Sufficient? Even, normal? Who wants to be average, or even normal? Aren’t we all shooting for fantastic, transcendent, extraordinary? To use Facebook’s most hated phrase, aren’t we aiming at #bliss?
And then I thought about something my mom said to me awhile back. I was having one of my recurring strife moments over the topic of passion. In the smallest of nutshells, I battle with myself as to whether having many different passions, which I do, is a benefit, or whether I suffer because I am not devoted utterly to one pursuit (i.e. yoga, singing, dancing, blogging, you get the picture). I believe I was bemoaning my lack of manic drive to “be so completely consumed by one activity that I lose track of all time, going without sleep and sustenance in order to fully immerse myself in my passion.” My mother, bless her, paused for a moment, and then simply said “I guess I don’t see what’s so bad about just being average.”
Well. Umm. Actually, I don’t see what’s so bad about it either. Not when I stop, take a breath, and realize that being human already grants me all the capacity I’ll ever need to achieve and accomplish. I don’t need to seek out the superhuman, the above and beyond.
And it got me thinking. In school, “C” is the grade that is technically considered average. Now I don’t know about you, but where I grew up, a “C” meant you were in danger. It was not the mark of sufficiency- at least- not the kind of sufficiency anybody really hoped for. A “B” was really the true average in our perception. And I wasn’t a kid who got many of those. When I did, it may as well have been a “D” in my book. So the perspective is already completely off. Average is subtly redefined as “inadequate.”
How many times have I heard in a workout, or in a motivational speech, “Give it everything you’ve got! 110%!” I see the point, but from a practical standpoint, it’s completely absurd. 100% IS ALL THERE IS. And if you’re giving your truest maximum, an absolute 100%, you may find a burst of glory, but you will quickly go down in flames. A supernova is actually the violent, bright death of a star. When I really consider, I want something longer, more fulfilling, if quieter, something that endures.
Even the way we choose our words today makes everything over the top. “Super” is the new adjective of choice, as in “super cool” or “super suck in your stomach.” As it happens, run-of-the-mill sucking in your stomach is already pretty intense, thank you very much! We live in a world of more, where enough isn’t enough until it’s excess. And that may work with more money, more clothes, more friends, and more followers, but at it’s core, it doesn’t work with “more us.” We can’t be more than what we are. What we are is already plenty. Sometimes we are just not using the vast resources of ourselves in the most efficient way possible. And that will come, with time. But the first step must be understanding, with heart instead of head, that we are enough. Exactly as we are, this moment.
As for me, I’m trying to strip all those words of their negative connotations. To make new friends with adequate, ordinary, normal, average, sufficient, and enough. To identify myself in those terms, when it’s helpful, and feel…satisfied.