I, like I think a lot of other people, am deathly afraid of being average.
As my 22nd birthday approaches in less than two months (thanks Taylor Swift for making 22 a little less depressing), it’s hard not to think back on what my 12-year-old self thought I would have accomplished by now.
12-year-old Brenna did not think she would be in college at 22.
She thought for sure she would be famous in the next ten years for either writing a book or starring in a Disney Channel Original Movie or maybe selling out a tour (even though 12-year-old Brenna only played the flute) or more importantly dating Joe Jonas (cut me some slack, I was 12).
She thought she’d be pretty rich by 22, so she could live in New York City, prevent millions of kids from dying in orphanages and save the rhinos from going extinct.
My dreams aren’t too different today—except the fact that I don’t want to date Joe Jonas anymore.
It’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I’ve accomplished none of the things I thought that I would have by now. Looking back on my fairly average 21 years of life can cause me to seriously lose it.
Since I can remember, I’ve just always thought I was supposed to do something great, something above average. When I say it (or in this case—write it), I feel as if it makes me sound entitled, which isn’t a way I would normally describe myself. To be honest, though, I don’t think it’s a state of mind that is unique to me…
I think a lot of people think that they were put on this earth to do something great…and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
For me, it was to write a book that changed the way people thought or to write a song that helped people through something or have an idea that made an impact in a way I could never have imagined.
When I refer to “something great…” it’s always been on a global scale.
In order for me to be fulfilled and extraordinary and above average, I needed to write a book that touched people like Harry Potter did… or write a song that was as important to people as Let it Be or Fire and Rain was…or save millions of people—not just a few.
Now that I’ve made myself sound like a self-absorbed, power-hungry, fame-crazed girl with an irrational fear of living a totally fine, happy life… let me give some advice that I’ve been trying to learn myself.
**What could this appearing fame-crazed, selfish girl have to say???** Don’t be average? Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself when you are 12?!!!
No, no, no… not exactly.
My lesson that I know to be TRUE is…
Being average does not mean you can’t/won’t do extraordinary things and doing extraordinary things on a small scale, doesn’t make it any less extraordinary.
Some of the most extraordinary people I know are my parents. They taught me how to be myself and how to love, two of life’s most important lessons. My mom changes hundreds of people’s lives by volunteering in her community and my dad is pretty much a poster child for being the perfect son.
I look at my parents and think “Wow. They’ve done so much great stuff and it doesn’t even matter that they will never save as many people as Bill Gates does or inspire as many people as Beyoncé does. They are still great.”
The fact that someone, somewhere has done something on a larger scale, doesn’t make what they do any less great, any less important, or any less above average.
I think about that and it makes me happy to have such extraordinary parents. They might not be extraordinary to everyone else, but they are extraordinary to me.
But when I apply this logic to own life—my stomach knots up, my skin clams, and my irrational fear takes over. (It’s happening right now as I write this)
I can’t apply the same logic to my own life… but I’m trying to learn how.
You (I) have to remember that you might not change the world on a global scale, even if you think you were put on this earth to do so. You may never live up to your childhood dreams of being in the NBA or going to outer space or winning a Grammy.
But that shouldn’t make you feel sad or ashamed or as average as it makes me feel sometimes.
It doesn’t make you average or boring or unimportant.
I was recently talking to a friend who shares a very similar fear as me. When he told me he was afraid of getting a job he hated and continuing into an average life, I was pretty shocked.
This person has made such a huge and important impact in my life that I never would think of him as average… he was always going to be special and extraordinary to me because of what he had done in my life and I knew he would continue to do extraordinary things.
And that’s when I realized that it’s okay to not change the world. It’s also okay to dream of changing it and trying to change it… but I shouldn’t want to throw up every time I realize that I might not.
If I write some stories and plays and blogs and it makes A FEW people feel comforted or encouraged or happy, then I should be proud of that.
There is going to be a whole lot of people in the world who never give a shit about me or what I have to say. There will be a far less amount of people who give a shit about me and everything I have to say.
Those people, whose lives that have/will impact, those are the lives that will make me not average. Those are the lives who will make me feel like the time I dedicate to writing is worth it, and the time I spend dreaming isn’t pointless.
A lot of people will think you are average at what you do and a lot of people will never think about you ever, but as cheesy as it sounds… someone will think of you and they will think it would be impossible for you to ever be average.
Just remember: doing extraordinary things on a small scale, doesn’t make it any less extraordinary.
-Lesson by Brenna Cashen-
Brenna Cashen is studying media arts and design at James Madison University with a minor in Music Industry. She loves cereal and lemons more than the average person and spends 98.7% of her time pretending to live in NYC.