How to be totally, unimportantly average

November 27, 2012 | By Abraham | 34 comments

Depressing inspiration from Zen Pencils

(via Curious Brain)

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34 Comments

  1. George says:

    What’s wrong with being average? What if someone wants to live an “average” life, and is happy with the life shown in this comic?

    Seems to me that the writer is hung up on very superficial demographic details about life. This sense of “being non-average as a status symbol” seems to be pretty popular now, but is it really of any lasting value?

    Maybe in between the slides shown here, this “average” fellow has a wife with whom he is madly in love, and they stay together 75 years until parted by death. They have several children and dozens of grandchildren. Perhaps he is active in his local community, and finds a much higher purpose for this mundane “average” existence through faith. His consistency and reliability make him a pillar in his neighborhood and a steadfast rock to his family and friends.

    A few people will be world-changers and visionaries, and that’s fine. Fame, popularity, being edgy and outside the mainstream — these have a lot of appeal in today’s culture, but are mostly just another novel distraction in the long run.

    1. John says:

      What you just wrote is pretty pathetic.

      Who strives to be average? What kind of aspiration is that? Why would anyone want to be “a steadfast rock?” That’s uninteresting and bland. Taking risks and achieving more than you thought you ever could is all that life is worth. Be someone 8 year old you would want to grow up to be.

      Aspire to do what you want, nothing less. Do what you think is morally right, nothing less. Be unique. Be a neon yellow, don’t be a dull brown.

      1. Tet says:

        And here I thought it took ALL kinds to make a diverse, interesting and adequately functioning society. A crayon box full of nothing but neon yellow would be just as boring as one full of dull brown, wouldn’t you say?

      2. JK says:

        John,

        Your response makes you sound young. I’m guessing you haven’t hit your 30′s yet. Calling George’s description “pathetic” completely disregards notions of loyalty, family, and love (among others). Why does being interesting and not-bland have inherent value? Achievement is not the only meaning in life. And besides, who gets to set the standard for these achievements? Society? (I’ll pass on most of what society calls “achievement.”)

        I’d agree with you, in part, that people should aspire to do what they want. (Although, I’d say that you should aspire to be the person God made you to be). But still, I wouldn’t dismiss George’s description. If that’s what someone wants, there’s nothing *necessarily* wrong with it.

        On a side note, the eight-year-old me wanted to be a lot like my dad, who loved my mom and our family very well. I am fantastically happy loving my own wife and my children well. I don’t have to travel somewhere unsafe or write a book or open a business in order to find happiness or make my life meaningful.

      3. Dull brown with streaks of neon yellow says:

        The best people I have ever met and known were the “steadfast rocks” of their families and communities. It takes loyalty, family, love, community, charity, and a lot of other virtues that the neon yellow crowd may not yet understand.

        So I will answer John’s question of “Why would anyone want to be a steadfast rock?” Because they want to be the best person they can be.

        1. John says:

          @Tet
          That’s a pretty true statement, but if everyone thought outside the box, we’d have advanced every aspect of human life because we have considered every possibility.

          All the views that we, today, consider to be the norm have at one time been considered “radical,” and in many cases, “blasphemous.”

          @JK & Dull Brown…
          Yeah, I am only 17 and obviously the post I wrote is a bit idealistic, not everyone can do what they want. And you seem to be insinuating that “neon yellow” people don’t value loyalty, family, or love, which is a generalization. I value loyalty above all; someone insulting a friend or family member of mine is worlds worse than insulting me. I can’t comment on love mainly due to the fact that I don’t think I’ve comprehensively experienced all that love both demands and gives.

          And concerning following the mandates of society, one of the main points in my post was to follow your heart, not what anyone else wants of you. That is, of course, assuming that you give the good of your family/friends/society precedence to your own desires (within reason).

          1. JK says:

            John,

            I appreciate the level-headedness (forgive the grammar) of your response. I was not trying insinuate that people who think outside the box disregard the aforementioned attributes, only that your initial response seemed to disregard these qualities.

            I think you and I most likely agree more than we disagree on the general statement that this cartoon is trying to make – and possibly on life in general. I only responded in the first place because of the vitriol in your original post. Pathetic is a strong word.

            Anyways, I encourage you to follow your heart and be neon-yellow if that is what God has called you to. At the same time, let me implore you to avoid the mistake of thinking that original is inherently valuable or good. (A mistake I’ve made before and know I will make again!) While *some* of what society now holds as true used to be taboo, or even heretical, *new* is not always better. At one point eugenics was considered an “advanced” practice among the academic and social elite and something to be valued as morally right. If you want a good read on the topic, check out C.S. Lewis on “chronological snobbery.” (I can’t remember the essays of his that speak directly to this point, but it may be in “God in the Dock”.)

            Again, thanks for the reasoned interaction. All the best…
            -Jonathan

    2. June says:

      The person you just described? The pillar? With the 75-year-loving-marriage?

      News for you: he’s not average, either. He’s just different in other ways.

      I think the author’s point was that we shouldn’t do things just because ‘one does’ them, but because we want to do them. If you want to work 40 hours a week, you should do that, but not just because it is ‘proper’.

    3. Terra says:

      If I had to live this average life, I would hate it.
      What’s the point of living if you don’t make something of it? After all, you only live once. I know that’s a really overused phrase, but if you live the average life, then you’ll always have regrets.

        1. Terra says:

          Yeah, but I’d rather take the risk and regret it than ignore that chance and wonder forever what could have happened if I’d taken the dive.
          It’s like one of the thinking questions my dad likes to ask: What’s better, to fly and to fall, or to never touch the sky at all? Honestly, I’d prefer the former.

    4. John Cook says:

      I like your attitude. I wish more people would be just average, live a comfortable life filled with few fears, and keep out of the limelight. You will fit in well with the the majority of the people on this planet and I think that is a good idea. I think everyone should be like everyone else, quiet and perhaps a bit shy. Oh, and faith. that’s just great. Love Jesus and God and go to a good Christian church and tithe as expected. Wear a loose fitting brown suit with a white shirt that has never seen starch, and live that comfortable life with a quiet and unassuming wife.

      Yes, yes, yes. . .

      You make it so much easier to buy your home when the foreclosures wrap it up. Then I can advance beyond you as I buy the place you work, let my clothing store sell you shirts for $30.00 more than they are worth because you Jesus believing god fearing sad sack, brainless Christians are my spineless cup of tea.

      I have known for over 30 years how easily you Christians are terrified and that you will do little more than rush to that strange book by people who could not read or write, and you hit your knees just right so I can continue to dominate you. I just love the saps who are average. I count on em for my income and I know they will never harm me. . . They wouldn’t fooking dare!

      I’m the very powerful atheist you see in your nightmares.

      You and the rest just keep on keeping on. I truly love you saps. I would not be so happy and so powerful otherwise. I absolutely encourage nothingness in people and that strange religion helps to keep you there.

      HAHAHA Haaaaa Haaa Yeahhhhhh, a world of ignorant fools is my stepping stone to the excitement I love to have in life. Without you to take the low seat I might have a little resistance as I excel and you cower…

      1. Barak Hussein Obammy says:

        I don’t know about happy and powerful but you certainly sound like a deranged little bigot in your late teens. What a fail.

  2. Amy says:

    The world is designed for the unremarkable, the average person. An average life is going to be one of ease and comfort with no more challenge than is necessary to make life interesting. There will always be others who think like you do and you will never feel alone. I encourage every child I meet to be average. It’s a much happier life.

    1. Alex says:

      I think you are confusing THE world with YOUR world. Ask the “Average” Bangladeshi about how challenging life is.

      1. pallab says:

        The average Bangladeshi has a more happy life than you would think…. I cannot say I am average, but I think I have a pretty good idea. Wealth is not the point here.

  3. Amy says:

    To Alex at 2:25:

    Fair ’nuff. However, given that the comic was drawn about and for first-world people, I still stand by what I wrote.

  4. Marianne says:

    Actually, people like OP are quickly becoming average. Every young and restless first world person ever has dreamed of escaping whatever comfortable variation of life they’re raised in to go places and live an exciting life. Some people actually succeed in doing that, and that’s awesome. However, a lot of people find out that honestly they want to live a reasonably steady life that’s personally fulfilling. George hit the nail on the head. Do what you love always, but don’t feel like you have to be wildly different than everyone else to attain satisfaction. If you focus on living a meaningful life, you’ll be different from the status quo anyway.
    Although I do think everyone should, at some point in their life, travel a lot to various awesome places. Carpe Diem.
    Also, I’m 16 so nobody here can call me old and boring.

  5. Average Human says:

    Who is going to clean the toilets, pick up rubbish, drive buses/trains/cabs assemble computer/technological thingamajigs, pack the crap you buy online and deliver it to your home/work, basically do the mundane but needed tasks to maintain order in society? Answer. The Average.

  6. Pspaughtamus says:

    There’s nothing wrong with being average if you are happy with it. It’s only a problem if you aren’t happy with it, and only you can make the changes, whether those changes are in how you live your life, or your attitude towards it.

    1. Average Human says:

      exactly. As the quote at the end says ‘you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to’ – goes both ways. Also none of this crap where people say ‘do what you want as long as you don’t harm people’. If you think about it, everything we do, has some consequential harmful effect on a human being somewhere along the line. /rant.

  7. Sara Mcd says:

    I don’t know about average, but there is honor in living a quiet life well. There seems to be some confusion about the two. Questioning authority and living within one’s means are good ideas. But striving for “excitement” or “greatness” or something to distinguish oneself from the masses just for that reason alone, is lame.

    I wanted to travel and get an excellent education and then build things – skyscrapers a hundred stories high, bridges a mile long but l’ve sacrificed my own dreams to spend my time in this shabby little office helping my neighbors to get their own roof and walls and fireplace, loving my wife and my children, making a stand against the town bully, and being a part of my community. Each man’s life touches so many other lives, when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole. It’s A Wonderful Life.

  8. Linkum says:

    Life is just as pointless whether you live like an average person or whether you do something extraordinary. Who cares whether you’re remembered or change the world? You and everyone else will die all the same.

  9. wondrinfree says:

    I think the whole aversion to being average is a strawman argument because there is no such thing as average when you look close enough. We all make choices which colour our lives accordingly. Those who surrender their dreams for the sake of their family and community are surely more selfless and decent than those who crave experiences and are motivated by their own selfish and capricious desires. There is a danger that in pursuit of avoiding being average people will see life as a series of check boxes of things they must do to validate their lives. Making sure you are photographed next to some monument or other takes the focus of you actually living your life fully and meaningfully.

    I think, interesting or otherwise, it is better to live courageously and with full meaningful relationships then jumping through endless ‘interesting’ hoops.

  10. Chris Roberts says:

    It is rather amusing and contradictory for someone to say on the one hand, “Be your own person!” then turn around and ridicule a particular type of person. Be your own person… as long as you aren’t that guy! Be your own person… as long as you are the kind of person I think you should be!

  11. David S. says:

    Don’t go to college just because you are supposed to. Don’t go to college just because you want to learn. Go to college in pursuit of your vocation (your calling).

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