An Ordinary Life

American society places an enormous amount of pressure on children to be extraordinary. You know what I’m talking about.

Prodigies. Child business owners. Child actors. Self-possessed teens who quit school at 16 to go build an empire or play guitar. Toddler musicians. Anyone who followed their hearts desires, persevered, and became famous at the last second.

You know, those people who, by virtue of their birth and inborn talents or with the kind of family support that most people can only dream, somehow get catapulted into the public limelight as a paragon of ingenuity or talent or success. Or all three.

Then there are the rest of us.

I include myself in this category. I have not found my life’s work’s calling. I have not switched into that mode where I am utilizing all my strengths to put forth a confident version of myself in the public life we call employment, whether artistic or otherwise. In comparison with the rest of the American public, no one knows me because I do not stand out.

Truthfully, I am OK with that.

All my life, I have desired to find the one thing that I could do to bring myself into the realm of the extraordinary. I did not want it because I wanted to be better than anyone. But I deeply desired the kind of commitment and the experience of flow that people who know where their hearts lie experience.

Here are some things I truly enjoy: Being with my family, friends, husband, and cats. Working out at the gym. Being outside. Walks on the beach. Riding my bike with my husband.

I hate that this world asks us to look at the things and activities that we love the most and find ways to make money out of them. Being paid to do the things we love means we enjoy them less. It’s called the Over-justification Effect. External rewards reduce one’s internal enjoyment of a particular task.

If I am asked to spend 40 hours a week working, then I cannot think of a job as just a job. The need to truly enjoy the work increases, but the likelihood that the enjoyment will be as much as it can be is reduced. So I am stuck. I have tried a couple of different routes, but my heart wasn’t in it.

This year, I took on writing, and I am failing, by my own standards. However, I also wanted to get healthier, and I seem to be having success in that area by regularly committing to working out. But no one’s going to pay me to go to the gym and feel good.

Right now, I am not working outside the home. I am in a situation where it is not required so I can concentrate on getting healthier. I want to be able to give it my all, but my fibromyalgia pains suck so much energy out of me that doing is not possible. Without real health, I will chronically be exhausted as I work, and that’s no way to live, in my opinion.

I have not completely accepted that I am an ordinary person who will live this life only as ordinary. I grew up hearing about how smart I was. But being smart is not the sole answer to make it or living a happy life. Intelligence is not the only means by which goals can be achieved.

And thank goodness! Otherwise, the world would be quite the boring place.

 

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