This post is by TheNotMom team writer Laura LaVoie:
I have spent my whole life feeling like I am nothing more than average. I have always been average and I would always be average. There has never been anything exceptional about me. I didn’t participate in sports as a kid. I didn’t win awards or get top grades. I possessed no discernible talent that set me apart from my peers.
Like many young girls, I longed to feel talented or pretty, and I would often compare myself to others. It seems ridiculous to say that I wish my childhood had more drama, but sometimes that was how I felt. I grew up in a middle-class household in the suburbs. My father worked outside of the home and my mom stayed at home.
I was the youngest of three, with a wide age gap between myself and my oldest sibling. There was nothing unusual about my life or how I lived it. I went to school every day, did just enough to get by. I’d come home to have a snack, do my chores and homework, and then sit around waiting for the next day to come.
When I was a kid, I didn’t quite understand that my problem was one of overwhelming averageness. I coped with it in a most unhealthy way. I lied.
I made up all kinds of crazy stuff about myself because it was more interesting than the truth. In my pre-teen years, I made up stories about boyfriends who went to other schools. I would include just enough information to make it seem real, but hopefully not enough to make people question the truth. I felt like I was too average to be interesting to anyone else. I wasn’t even sure my friends found me interesting.
I dove into my only creative hobby: fiction writing. Mostly bad fiction with a bad poetry phase in my late teens. I had to get the lies out of my head and down on paper. Writing was a much more constructive way to tell these stories than to pass them off as my reality. My own story was too average to tell. Tales about vampires or magical quests seemed much more exciting.
I gave up the lying in high school. It was exhausting to pretend to be something else. I focused more on writing than I did on anything else, including my grades. I sometimes wrote in class rather than doing my classwork. In spite of my reputation as a nerd, I wasn’t a straight-A student and I wasn’t the girl you actually wanted to cheat from. People did, but they quickly learned it wouldn’t provide the outcome they were expecting. I was simply average.
I got into college and continued to be average. I graduated, and was still just average. I got an average job and did average things. I hated what it meant to be average, which sometimes made me hate myself. I had always thought I would rise above the average life.
When I was a kid living in suburban Detroit, I would imagine living in New York City or London. I told myself that I wouldn’t continue to work in a safe job that paid me well but made me miserable. As I became more independent, I’d do little things to make Life seem less average, but they just masked the problem.
But then I began to travel, and I experienced so many kinds of awesomeness that I started to think a not-so-average life was possible for me. I always returned to the same old things, but I told myself that one day, I wouldn’t be average any more. But, “one day” is not a thing that just happens. You have to make it happen.
I’m in my late 30s now. I look back and realize that average isn’t what I would call my life at all. Average stopped weighing me down a while ago, even though my brain doesn’t always notice it. I chose an unconventional life in many ways, but being unconventional doesn’t automatically mean above-average. It does mean that I no longer compromise.
Sometimes, it means I take a risk and fail. Making safe choices doesn’t guarantee that life will turn out exactly like you plan either. I took myself out of my safety zone and jumped without a net. No matter what I do from this moment forward, I will never be average again.
How will you live your life?