I Am Not Extraordinary

My parents were masters of making me feel like I was the smartest most fabulous kid out there.  In hindsight, I see that I was the only fish in their pond and so of course, I would have all of these superlatives thrown at me. Plus, I was quite the over achiever and they were “modern parents”.

As I grew up and waded into larger and larger ponds, though, I began to realize that while I was still pretty darn special (special in a good way, not in a knowing wink-wink way), there were literally thousands of kids just like me.  What was worse, there were thousands of kids who were smarter, more talented and more everything than me.  That was hard to realize and even harder to accept.

These days, I am mostly comfortable with who I am and what I’ve accomplished.  I finally realized that I needed to compare myself only to the plan that I had for my life, not with the accomplishments of others. On that scale, I’m doing pretty darned well.

Some days, though, that’s hard.  Like when you hear an interview with a woman who is your age and has just won a MacArthur Genius Grant.  What have I done with my life that would warrant a $500,000 no strings attached grant?

Nada. Zilch-o. Zippity-Do-Nah.

And you know what? That’s ok.

I admit, it did burn a little, even though I desired to be a marine biologist for about 5 minutes when I was 7 (although what girl didn’t dream about being a marine biologist when they were younger? I swear, for a few years there  it was the stock answer to the question of your future career).

Mr. X and I discussed this question of extraordinary-ness on one of our recent evening walks with Rex (who added to the conversation by babbling and gurgling from behind his little red stroller curtain).  He is very wise, Mr. X.  He reminded me that the measure of my life is the love that it is in it and what I do to make me happy.   Rex raspberried at that moment, probably to reinforce this.

He’s right. As usual.  Right, right and right.  And I know that I am happy with who I am, whether or not I’m given $500,000 for being fabulous.  Maybe I should start playing the lottery, though, just in case.

5 thoughts on “I Am Not Extraordinary

  1. In un-eloquent words (& why I’m not winning awards for any best-selling novels): Oh yeah, I so get you on this.

    Once I realized that I AM happy with my life as it is, and gave up comparing my life negatively against these people doing amazing things, it became so much easier to be happy for them. But still, $500k just for being fabulous? That’s hard to pass by.

  2. My friends all think I’m really smart, and maybe I was, once upon a time (age can certainly take that away from you). But I always thought that everyone had something in them that I wasn’t able to do – maybe it was a trivia question they could answer. Maybe they knew all the pop culture that I never cared about. Maybe they could jump or run faster or drink a lot of alcohol. I’ve always thought that although I’m not nothing, I’m nothing particularly special either. So when I see someone so accomplished winning that kind of award, I think “Good for her – but I bet she had to give up a lot to get there. I don’t like to work that hard.” I’m not jealous, because I’m not focused/fanatical enough to get to those levels.

  3. I’ve always wanted to be that special especially if they’re handing out cash – alas, I am not THAT kind of special. And while my ego is not gratified by such displays or awards, I try to connect with people. I really try to love the people I really like and respect those I don’t. I’d love if it were obituary would leave the masses in tears, but let’s face it, I just hope my kid brings me flowers when I’m old.

  4. I think the discovery of the Manatee was what set the grade school girl Marine Biologist craze in motion….either that or Shamu. My fifth grade boyfriend wanted to be one, too. He turned out to be gay. Wonder if that had anything to do with it.

    It takes a lot to discover that you’re fabulous just by being you. Someday I’d like to come to that realization.

  5. I’m with A. I was always one of the best (if not THE best) students in my class all through school. When I got to university, though, I realized I was just another fish in the pond. I was bright, but there were a lot of other people out there smarter than me. I know that realization was crushing for a lot of people, but I actually felt kind of relieved that nobody was looking to me as “the brain” anymore & I could just be me. Also as A said, while I think I’m a good worker, I don’t think I want to work that hard either. ; )

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