As part of a special education team, back in my school social work days; we would evaluate children's skills and abilities to determine how to better support them both academically and socially throughout their school day. What we often found was that children with very high intelligence scores often struggled as much with socializing as children with very low IQs. They often had a hard time making friends, understanding social cues, especially non-verbal, and could end up feeling more isolated, sad and with no enthusiasm for school. The students who fell in the "middle of the bell curve" (as it's described in psychological testing), however, may not have excelled or faltered at academics, but generally seemed to have friends, enjoy school and overall managed to get by without much issue. "There's nothing wrong with being average", said the speech pathologist one day. It seemed like such an innocuous statement, but meant so much to me.
Somewhere along the way from elementary school, we end up as adults comparing ourselves to everyone. Being average isn't enough. We need to have more-- more money, a bigger home, a nicer car, a more wonderful spouse, smarter kids, a thinner physique, less wrinkles, bigger boobs...you get the idea.
But what did all parents want for their children back then? Friends...A friend...Any friend. Nothing breaks a parent's heart more than their child not having friends. It was a rare parent that would accept an isolated child over an academic genius.
To compare is to despair. We will always find someone better off in one way or another if we look for it. In fact, our entire social media construct is set up to help us find just that. I don't know about you, but I have fallen victim to despair more than once when I scroll those [cough] evil, I mean awesome, forums. In the face of comparison, we will never win. So why do we subject ourselves to such pain?
What if we started celebrating our 'averageness'. Instead of "that's awesome!" We could say "hey, that's average! Good for you!" I know... it would never fly. What if we just allowed ourselves room in our head and our heart for average, for good enough? Would we, just like our younger selves, be happier, have more enthusiasm, feel more connected, take issue with little? I suspect as much.
Mr. Rogers, a very wise man, focused on making children feel special and unique. He strived to help make the world better by allowing room for people to be who they are, feel what they really feel and be listened to, validated. While I suppose being special is better than average I think our intent is the same. If we can find contentment in our ability to be exactly who we are, with no apologies, no striving, no comparing; then we would find our worth and honor it. Just having and being a friend would be enough.
And as wise Mr. Rogers once said: The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile. And that worth only comes from knowing that even if we are average, we are a gift.