The Irrational Fear of an ‘Average Life.’
We were never meant to live small. Many of us dream of living a remarkable life, the problem is that many of us don’t base our desires on what we truly want, but on what we think will impress others.
This tendency has arguably been amplified by social media, which offers us a filtered version of reality where we only see the best of other people’s lives. When you’re scrolling through Instagram, do you see pictures of people looking bored, doing the same routine they do every day? Or do you see the perfectly posed shots of travel and excitement, with just the right filter and lighting adjustments to make the photos seem all that more perfect?
My point is that social media portrays a very filtered version of reality, and it can convince us that the people around us are doing a lot better than we are. This can provoke a fear inside us, a nagging voice convincing us that we might be running out of time, or falling behind, or a sense that we have nothing much to look forward to.
While everyone around us seems to be enjoying more and more success and happiness, we’re stuck here just feeling… “average.”
But what’s wrong with average?
Does that question make you feel slightly uncomfortable? Good, because it made me feel uncomfortable too. There was a part of me that thought even asking this question was a form of defeat, of accepting a lower standard when I should strive for more.
But that’s not the point of the question. The point of the question isn’t what you get out of life, it’s the fear that you aren’t enough. Yes, you can still strive towards a remarkable life, but chasing a life that isn’t even your own won’t bring you any real happiness long term.
So what the hell is wrong with being average? Because I can tell you right now, setting super-high expectations on yourself to live up to an imagined ideal of what you think will impress others can lead to burn out, disappointment and envy. I spent half my adult life day dreaming about being rich and famous. With every new year that rolled around I kept telling myself that this would be the year I would make it big and everyone would see how wrong they were. But those years kept rolling into the next and I was no closer to the dream I thought I wanted.
Meanwhile, as the years passed, I saw a lot of my old friends from high school growing up, getting married, starting a family. People I used to judge as having accepted a boring and “average” life had found their happiness, and I was lonely and hating myself for failing to live up to an imagined life that was never mine to begin with.
Now am I saying that we shouldn’t pursue big dreams? No, I still have grandiose dreams, but the difference is that now I pursue dreams that are my own. I work towards goals that are fulfilling, helping men discover their own self-worth, their own ambitions, and their own potential. I continue to strive to make a difference in the world using my strengths and embracing my weaknesses.
Hidden inside the irrational fear of an “average life” is a realisation that we’ve been comparing our own lives to the success of others (whether real or imagined), rather than getting in touch with what brings us genuine meaning.
Every man has his own version of an extraordinary life, whether that’s building a business, travelling the world, writing a book, or being an amazing father.
The point isn’t to accept a “lesser life” but to stop basing your life on the expectations of others.
The only way to step outside of an ordinary life is to live a life congruent with your values, embrace your strengths, accept your weaknesses, and utilise your talents to build the life of you want.
But the life you want has to be your own.