Speak Up

Forget perfection: it’s time to start celebrating averageness

Posted by
Laura Whitmore
Published
Illustration of women holding one another in shape of a heart

Say it with us: if you are the best you can be, you are doing your best.

Averageness
Noun

Not the best, not the worst.

It doesn’t take a lot to be average; in fact, the very definition of average means that there is a pretty good chance that you are average. Congratulations. 

The problem is we are told average isn’t really good enough. We need to be better. Let’s just take a moment and let this concept sink in. The average person IS average. You are where you are expected to be. You are a safe ‘OK’.

Now, I am by no means saying let’s not be arsed to motivate ourselves and be satisfied with the tag ‘OK’ all the time. I am an ambitious person and I like a sense of challenge. But can we give ourselves a break?

What’s hard is this feeling that we have to be good at EVERYTHING. Since we are born we are compared - what’s the weight of your baby? Oh that’s a big baby but average for a Western baby.

Actually even before that, when you are floating away in foetal position in your mothers womb you are already being talked about. ‘The first child is usually the most difficult.’

Back to you minus umbilical chord. If you are the best you can be, you are doing your best. You’re only average compared to other people.

Years ago we didn’t really know what everyone else was accomplishing. We read stuff in newspapers and gossiped about the neighbours. Now we are bombarded with the successes of someone else the minute we unlock our phones. We constantly compare our lives to someone we may never have met.

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Would we feel bad about ourselves when we see Jennifer instagram her new retro pink fridge whilst our one’s light blew a year ago and we have no idea how to replace it, if we didn’t KNOW Jennifer had a new refrigerator.

Side‐note : I’m not even sure what that dark stuff wrapped in clingfilm is at the back of my fridge but it gets no light so I guess we’ll never know.

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I’ll let you in on the worst kept secret, there are over 40 filters on Instagram for a reason (that’s without downloading all the other apps to refilter that filtered picture). Most of us are average, we just choose to display that averageness in an exceptional way.

We don’t have to eat the best food to survive: a basic diet will get us through. We wear clothes to stay warm and hide our modesty, they don’t need to be the latest designer collection. We have to move but we don’t have to do the Argentinian Tango. The musician Brian Eno says ‘We have to communicate but we don’t have to write epic poetry’. What I think he was actually getting at is that art is something we all can (and indeed should) inhabit everyday. We can do things and not be the best. Maybe you were late to work but by god at least you got to work. You may not have the most productive day but well bloody done for getting out from under the duvet. You are part of that average group who turns up for work! Let’s just have a moment to celebrate.

For one day only on Monday 13 August, Laura Whitmore has taken over stylist.co.uk and transformed it into her very own Speak Up platform – a digital initiative which aims to shine a light on the day’s most important headlines, challenge the status quo, spark debate, encourage conversation and, above all else, champion women’s voices..

For similarly inspiring content, check out Laura Whitmore’s show on BBC Radio 5 Live.

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