Flourish in Normality

Media tends only to feature the best of the best human beings. To elaborate, videos on Facebook stream people performing extraordinary tasks such as someone taking a video of themselves doing a backflip on top of a skyscraper or someone building a hot tub using nothing but raw materials in a matter of hours. TV shows like The Voice or America’s Got Talent exhibit an ample range of angelic singers and wild talents you might not have even known existed. Instagram shows us fitness models with abs even though they are three months pregnant. Even on campus, only those deemed most successful or most involved receive the spotlight. For example, the cardboard cutouts displayed in the in the bookstore are of outstanding CSU athletes and a majority of the time the people who are represented in the Collegian have done exceptional things for CSU.

Before college, I premeditated every encounter I would face. I figured I would join, at the very least, three clubs my first year. I would go out every weekend. I would excel in my classes and would essentially go through a complete transformation of my ordinary high school self that I had gotten to know well for 18 years. One thing I did not think of was that I would not be extraordinary.

In my entrepreneurship class last year, my professor asked my class of 35 people if we thought we were an artist. One person raised their hand. He then asked the class to raise our hand if we thought we were a dancer. No one raised their hand. He asked the class to raise our hand if we thought we were a writer. Four people raised their hand. My professor explained that most of us in the room could have raised our hands for all of these. The expectations we set in our minds disqualifies us from things we truly are. Fear of performing subpar holds us back and leads us to stray away from anything we assume we could not do perfectly. The general mindset of being number one can be toxic to our ability of creative expression. As Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights says, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” This cannot be the way we think.

Another example of how this can play out in college is syllabus week in a new class. A common exercise professors lean towards is to ask the students to share a fun fact about themselves. Each person then scrambles their brain to think of something worthy enough to share in front of dozens of strangers to prove they are important. This is not to say that most people are uninteresting or lack ability but rather to point out the beauty of flourishing in normality. Recognizing that it is okay to not have any extreme story or talent is an uncomfortable process that us ordinary’s need to work on thriving towards.

People like the ones described at the beginning still deserve the recognition they receive because they have clearly worked hard for it and hard work should not go unnoticed. But, for those who self-proclaim as ordinary, like me, it can be disheartening knowing you are not one of those people and likely will never be. This is not a ‘what’s the point’ moment but rather a coming to terms moment. We cannot all be movie stars. We cannot all do backflips on top of skyscrapers. We cannot all have angelic voices. Although, being able to only hit some notes of a song does not mean you should not sing. We each carry special value and unique attributes. I am the only one I know who can make my best friend laugh so hard Dr. Pepper snorts out of her nose. My mother is the only person I know who can make spaghetti sauce that is specific to my picky taste buds. We each hold a specialized place in other people’s lives, unique to just you and them. That is what matters.