A couple of months ago, I declared myself average.
I looked at my life: my job and salary, apartment, looks, talents and hobbies, and material trappings and realized I likely won’t go much further than cute, working-class administrative professional in a cute apartment who can write a little bit when so moved.
It sounded defeatist–and boy, was I admonished for it–but saying it aloud was a peaceful, clear break in an otherwise restless, foggy year.
See, it’s been a long time since thinking big served me.
When I was a kid, growing up in a marginal neighborhood with a well-meaning mother who told me I had a duty to fly even though she provided no safety net, “thinking big” was the escape hatch. I had to see my life beyond the house, neighborhood, and schools where I spent my formative years. I had to believe there was more for me than babies and unreliable boyfriends. In my lowest moments–demoralizing heartbreaks, depressive and suicidal spells, interruptions to my carefully-laid plans–“something more” buoyed me back to the surface, out of my dark depths and into the sunshine.
My ideal self haunted me as much as it motivated me. On a dime, it could pull me out of misery or turn to quicksand around my feet and drown me in my daily failure to live up to it. How much of my anxiety and depression, I wondered, was triggered by the fear of wasted potential?
Why, at 35, was I still fixated on what I could be?
I’m as single and (surgically, permanently) childless as I dreamed. I have the job title I’ve coveted since 2010. I live in the neighborhood I’ve wanted to live in since 2009 when an old boyfriend moved here and I just knew we were on the path to cohabitation. And my apartment, with its hardwood floors and plenty of light, is everything I could want for my budget. Shit. I even like my car.
Why couldn’t I sit HERE at the table I set instead of letting my food get cold window shopping for a prettier table?
To quote the title of my favorite book of 2018, What If This Were Enough?
So I am average.
That is neither an insult nor a testament to what I deserve. It is a statement of fact; what my life reflects back to me every morning.
I want to immerse myself in what is–what I can touch, taste, see, and feel right now–without comparing it to an idealized version in my head.