A few black and white lines. Mindlessly hammered out by some old man who doesn’t even have the foresight to realize that his sad existence will end in the same way. A few awkward sentences describing their volunteerism and their menial contributions to the world. Followed by a listing of their real legacy, the names of the pesky and problematic grandchildren. Their own spawn and the names that delude them into thinking they will live on. Live on through the quilts, silverware, and anecdotes. What they don’t realize is that after that sentence listing all the people who showed up to their Easter gatherings there is a full stop, the final one.
I have always been destined for a life of mediocrity. Most people are frightened by extremes, a pit full of tarantulas or a plane crash, I am terrified of being normal. Everything about me screams average. My absolutely unoriginal and totally bland brown hair, my unremarkable height, my mid ranging IQ, my perfectly normal middle-class parents, and four person family. A mediocre sense of humour. A face that isn’t pretty enough to be noteworthy, but also not ugly enough to stand out. I was constantly forgotten and overlooked. I used to resent it when people in my class at my 500 deep high school used to ask me what grade I was in, but I’ve come to realize that they weren’t to blame. I blended into a sea of average, an expanse of unremarkable people.
People who would never accomplish great things, but also would never cause anyone else suffering. I was comfortable in my empty box of plainness, so much so that I believed it to be a burden for me to show any kind of noticeable emotion like frustration or pure joy or sadness or desperation or loneliness, or worse, anger. Feelings were part of a language of extremes, something I had no business in.
Secretly I dreamed up the craziest and sometimes most horrific imaginings. I just wanted something to happen to me. I didn’t care if it was the most sinister or outlandish of musings, I just wanted something, anything to separate me from the mundane. To give me a purpose like all the powerful and smart heroes and heroines had in the films and movies I watched as a kid.
It wasn’t until college that my perspective began to change. I still camouflaged into my surroundings impossibly well; was used to regularly having my name forgotten; and constantly engaged in conversation with people who would only later realize that we had already met. Some people knew me, I was involved on campus, knew most of the people involved in student government, was doing well in school, had a solid group of smart and awesome friends, worked summers as a prestigious international conflict transformation camp, backpacked through Europe and following graduation participated in a six month cross cultural exchange program. I constantly battled with the insecurities of being average but I sought out every possible opportunity to make myself interesting and to distinguishing myself from the subsuming masses.
It wasn’t until graduating from college and moving back in with my parents that I fully deconstructed the myth of greatness.
I grew up, as many other lucky north American children of middle class parents do, thinking that I was different. I was special. I watched the secret garden, nancy drew and Harry potter and I believed that I too was unique, a chosen one of sorts. But when the Hogwarts invitation failed to arrive on my 11th birthday ( I waited for an extra five years to account for a possible postage mishap) I realized that I was a muggle. And not even a fat, obnoxious, oddly named one at that, I was a dime a dozen.
Perhaps, I am not destined to achieve greatness, at least not anymore than can be summarized in a few short black and white printed lines. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever come to terms with. But it’s a meaning I will continue to seek, I will always strive for more than mediocrity.