In Celebration of Being Ordinary

holdstomachin

I am an ordinary human.

I hereby wildly loudly celebrate being ordinary.

Average. Making mistakes. Getting C’s.

Here is why I am wildly celebrating being ordinary and average:

because I see a world enthralled to best, a world that increasingly equates being extraordinary with the right to exist.

If you can’t win the reality TV show, make a million your first year in business, write a mega best-selling book, be thin and have a great butt into your 70’s, raise perfect children, have hot sex three times a week, why be at all?

This kind of thinking is deadly in so many ways. It encourages us to be frantic, ashamed, lonely and resigned. And yes, you always have a choice how you react and it’s draining to always have to resist the dominant culture pull.

The push/pull to be EXTRAORDINARY breaks connection and squanders our individual gifts when we need them most.

If we believe being average = being nobody then we never develop the gifts we have, thinking them too average, hum drum, who cares? Simple example: If I try to write this blog post like an extraordinary writer, my writing dries up and nothing emerges.

If we believe ordinary means we can’t impact the world, we fall into resignation, bury ourselves in shadow comforts.

If we believe being average and ordinary means no one will love us or everyone we meet is too ordinary, we condemn ourselves to loneliness.

Perhaps most tragically, when we work so hard to be special, there is no time to be alive! No time to open our arms to the simple, the average, the everyday. Which is where 99.9% of the life happens and where we get to be who we are!

I have no snappy ending or tidy answer for this cultural affliction except to proclaim – with my flabby butt and floppy arms – I am average. I am ordinary. And I am wildly proud of it.

Nice to meet you.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Irena Gallo - April 24, 2013

Jen writes: “Here is why I am wildly celebrating being ordinary and average:
because I see a world enthralled to best, a world that increasingly equates being extraordinary with the right to exist.”

Again, you nailed it Jen and you tell it as it is. Thank you for reminding us how we set limits on ourselves in so many ways (or let others put us in boxes) with this kind of thinking.

As always, you seem to write something I need to hear at exactly the moment I am reading it. Living (and aging) in NYC, a place filled with people who want to be personally and professionally recognized as “the best” and “extraordinary” in everything (including appearance, where and how they live and what they own and wear) and where ordinary and average are ignored (at best) and put down and treated as “less than,” your article is a breath of much needed wisdom and fresh air. I’m sharing this with everyone, but especially with a friend who teaches disenfranchised teenagers who have spent their lives, most of them, treated as if they did not matter (worse than ordinary) at all.

I have often felt as I traveled thru everyday life how all of our lives are improved by the numerous people who show up to do their “ordinary” jobs with dignity and grace and commitment; how our families, relationships and community are enhanced and rooted and grown by tons of “ordinary” folks who again, show up with love, grace, commitment and a wide variety of skills and experience, though not extraordinary or maybe “the best, ” that are used to create and maintain our everyday lives. They are being their best selves in this process though it is rarely recognized as such.

Our society focuses on “the best” and “extraordinary” to the exclusion of celebrating the depth and richness of everyday life that often turns (though few might be mindful or aware of it) on the basics, the ordinary to ensure that we have a foundation that allows us to fully live and create our lives.
Being locked into challenging lives limited by or dictated by finances, health and other factors and still showing up and being loving, compassionate and present for others? THIS is extraordinary and yet it is not celebrated as such. In many cases, ordinary IS extraordinary, especially given the world we live in today.
My big belly, flabby arms and definitely less-than-magazine-cover perfect self is thrilled to share space with the ordinary( in the most extraordinary way) Jen.

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    i hear you and i loved reading this, so agreed!

    Reply
Melanie DewBerry - April 24, 2013

Loving this hard.

Reply
Fuck it. Just be. | CORE - April 24, 2013

[…] I know I’m not the only one. […]

Reply
Jason - April 24, 2013

Hi, Jen. I’m ordinary, too. And grossly imperfect. (Phew! It feels good to say that.)

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    Whew indeed!

    Reply
Erin Callaway - April 24, 2013

Oh THANK YOU for this post! Just what I needed to hear today. 🙂

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    me, too!

    Reply
Rebekah - April 24, 2013

Thank you so much for this! I’ve definitely been feeling the pressure to be extraordinary, and this landing in my inbox this morning felt like a welcome sigh of relief.

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    Sighing with you!

    Reply
Charlotte Rains Dixon - April 24, 2013

Halleluiah! What a great perspective. I think with so much media and social media blasting the “great” accomplishments of so many its easy to feel less than all the time. Thank you for reminding us that ordinary is enough.

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    Thank you Charlotte!

    Reply
Christina Frei - April 24, 2013

Jennifer – This is one of my favorite topics. Paul Revere was super-duper ordinary, and yet was at the center of world events on the eve of the revolution. Sha-zaam. I love sharing this message with kids, because there is SUCH pressure to be a rockstar in everything. I have them flat out admit what aspects of themselves they consider ordinary, to make it safe. Brene Brown talks about this pressure too. Glad we’re addressing it! I’m ordinary too and proud of it!

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    Brene does talk about it, I just re-read that! You are so amazing.

    Reply
Julie Mitchell - April 24, 2013

Oh, yes, yes, YES!! Thanks, Jennifer, for your average, affirming, authentic blog post.

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    thank you for commenting!

    Reply
Rebecca - April 24, 2013

Woo Hoo for Jennifer Louden. Thank you so much for this post. How many of us are being crushed under the weight of being a ‘perfect’ superhero? I try to remind myself of the words of Carl Rogers “I am human and that is enough.”

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    thank you my dear!

    Reply
NourishClt - April 24, 2013

Sounds like the more we embrace our simple, healthy ordinariness, we can’t help but become our most beautiful, divinely mundane, extraordinary selves! THAT I can sign up for! 🙂

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    Let’s sign up for that!!! YES!

    Reply
Susan Gallacher-Turner - April 24, 2013

Thanks, Jen! Just what I needed to hear today as I head out to take my newly finished and imperfect clay work to a big local show for the first time. I am just another ordinary person who throws and sculpts clay with my ordinary, average hands.

Reply
Kate Case - April 24, 2013

Yes! I’m really tired of all the hyped up stuff exhorting us all to be “the most, the best, the top etc etc” – often just makes me feel deflated and inadequate. Thank you for articulating this!

Reply
Elisabeth - April 24, 2013

Thank you for this post! All that striving gets exhausting and blinds us to the great mundane stuff we’re doing now, right where we are.

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    doesn’t it!

    Reply
By Kim K. - April 24, 2013

Maybe the labels are the problem, extraordinary, ordinary, why not just be?

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    I agree and sometimes we have to see the labels to lose them.

    Reply
Jeffrey Davis - April 24, 2013

Love your wonder and spirit, Jen. Your piece made me think instantly of one of my favorite NYT pieces of 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/your-money/redefining-success-and-celebrating-the-unremarkable.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Reply
    Jennifer - April 24, 2013

    as i love yours!

    Reply
Joy Holland - April 24, 2013

I love the feel of the message, but I am not sure about the labels. My most extraordinary moments might look ordinary to someone else, but they feel *magical* to me…and my most ordinary moments look incredibly extraordinary to others ….but I am full of wonder and gratitude for all of it as is.

Reply
Brenda W. - April 24, 2013

I’m feeling downtrodden by my own ordinariness, and so needed to hear this. Thank you!

Reply
Cyd Madsen - April 24, 2013

Hot spit and dynomite! Love this. I keep saying I’m an extra ordinary person, and that puts me in line with the most people possible. It’s great. I keep hearing about stepping up and being a leader, but I keep wondering where we’re going. Thanks for the liberation through validation.

Reply
    Brenda W. - April 25, 2013

    “I keep hearing about stepping up and being a leader, but I keep wondering where we’re going.” – Nicely said!!

    Reply
Cynthia Lee - April 25, 2013

you are singing my song!

I have cannot escape the call for less, to less.

I don’t dream of bigger, better, grander, greater.
I dream of ordinary days, of sharing the small moments.
of just being me, just living my life, simply and wonderfully.

I dream of whispers in the ear, “won’t you join me?”

Reply
Guest - April 25, 2013

This is all true on a lot of levels, but I think you’ve missed the key element of pride. It seems that the root of this desire to be “extraordinary” is really our own pride, combined with a lack of belief or acceptance that there is meaning in serving God in the smallest and humblest of ways. I agree with the others who have pointed out that the labels are problematic. There is no extraordinary or ordinary when it comes to the body of Christ, there is only obedience in following what God has called each of us to, for the big or the small, and there always will be meaning and fruit in that for the body as a whole. But for that to work correctly we must allow that process to work through us, and that means letting go of our pride that we should be something else, or promoting a sense of false humility that we are so ordinary, when we all have purpose and meaning in Christ.

Reply
Michelle - April 28, 2013

Jen, Thank you for this. As an artist I struggle with this…why make art if you can’t be Picasso? I know the answer…because art matters, because making my art matters….but it’s still sometimes hard to battle the inner critic that thinks only the spectacular is worth anything. I appreciate being reminded to celebrate my ordinary self. Hooray for all of us!!

Reply
Body Image Boosters From The Blogosphere 5.5.13 | Weightless - May 5, 2013

[…] celebrating being ordinary along with […]

Reply
Neither Five nor Friday | to be dancing... a novelty yarn - May 19, 2013

[…] http://jenniferlouden.com/in-celebration-of-being-ordinary/ (it’s okay to be a regular person, in spite of what the media shows us) […]

Reply
Linda M - July 21, 2013

Oh. I’m stunned! This was exactly what I needed to hear. I am in desperate need for a change in my life, if I don’t there will be really bad consequences. So I’ve been going through a lot of blogs and books about life planning, coaching and the like. All of them focus on being extra ordinary, original, take the leap and so on. All I feel is intimidated. And although I know I have something to share, a story to tell and people would benefit from it, I get stuck in my fears.
I’m gonna print this post and pin it to my wall, reading it every morning. 😀 Thanks!

Reply
    jenlouden - August 3, 2013

    glad it was useful Linda.

    Reply
Coaching ConfidenceCoaching Confidence-2013 blog review - April - December 21, 2013

[…] “In Celebration of Being Ordinary” A post by Jennifer Louden […]

Reply
Celebrating an Ordinary Life | Nicole Conner: Reflections of a Mugwump - January 10, 2016

[…] It seems, at least in many developed countries, that being extraordinary equates to the right to exist. Now add the hyper-reality of social media, with photos of the ‘perfect’ family, holiday, […]

Reply
Admirable Person: Free Expository Essay Sample - October 21, 2016

[…] people choose respected people in a given society or discipline, we tend to forget about the fact that outstanding people worth admiring are everywhere around us. To break out of the trend of laying laurels on celebrities, I would like to talk about my best […]

Reply
Extraordinarily Ordinary Homeschoolers | Beverly Burgess | Homeschool Consultant and Coach - October 27, 2017

[…] and sometimes as difficult as walking over hot coals. Ordinary. We are extraordinarily, ordinary. Celebrate it.  Just like […]

Reply
Celebrating an Ordinary Life – Nicole Conner: Reflections of a Mugwump - October 30, 2017

[…] It seems, at least in many developed countries, that being extraordinary equates to the right to exist. Now add the hyper-reality of social media, with photos of the ‘perfect’ family, holiday, […]

Reply
Jamie Grosser - April 18, 2018

Hi Jen

I just google this concept as it how I feel . I have strived to be an extraordinary being for 50 years and I’m just about ready to chuck it in cos I’m not even close . I decided the answer was to just be me .

I found your post straight away and felt instant relief that others felt the same way

Thanks

Reply
Leave a Reply: