Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Average Joes: Life at the top of the normal distribution curve!


As children, we are constantly told that each and every one of us is special in our own way. As individuals, we each possess a certain set of skills, talent if you may, that makes us shine apart from the rest. Parents sign their kids up for different activities such as sports, arts, and/or music extracurricular hobbies; jamming their child’s already busy  schedule with diverse exposure to various disciplines in hope that they’ve spawned the next Yo-Yo Ma or Abu Triekka. The truth of the matter is that the majority of people are born without any distinguishable talents what so ever. The majority of people live their lives firmly positioned at the top of the normal distribution curve, never achieving outlier status.  They can do most things well, yet they are not great at particularly anything.

There’s nothing wrong with being average, again most people are. So why is there a continual effort to ingrain children with a sense that they are (or must be) extraordinary. When has ordinary become such a bad thing? Why can’t we teach them to embrace who they are. Teach them to identify their strengths, ordinary as they may be, and to make those strengths work for them. I understand that it is “a dog eats dog” world, and we must teach our children how to survive in such an environment. However, emphasizing that they have to be exceptional can be detrimental to their self-esteem, more so for the emerging average Joes. Ordinary kids spend their childhoods and exert much effort in trying to prove to themselves that they are great at something - anything, trying to live up to the enormous expectation put upon them by their parents and by society. When they can’t find their talent, they start to prey on other kids who are actually special, and thus a bully is born. On the other hand, they can just dwell in their own self-pity and sorrow, essentially bulling themselves. How can we expect them to show tolerance to others when we didn’t teach them to accept who they are?

To all the average Joes out there, we are the worker bees and yes it sucks! We’ll probably never get to shine in the spotlight. We won’t leave lasting legacies. But, without us outliers would not exists, for there will be no movie stars without movie goers. We are the axis from which outliers deviate to show their extraordinary attributes. We might not make the world spin, but we keep it in its orbit. Embrace your old average self and know that it is us who make geniuses genius.

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