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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 140 Get More Organised > The joy of average

The joy of average

Most of us will never be exceptional at anything, or even reach the giddy heights of top of our game – and what’s wrong with that? Run-of-the-mill Lizzie Enfield extols the pleasures of an ordinary life, self-esteem intact

Self

My 13-year-old son got his school report recently. It was OK, but it could have been better. He didn’t seem to care. ‘I’m at the average level expected of my year,’ he said – and I had to stop myself from telling him that he should aim to be above average. But should he? And why? We can’t all be better than average – there simply isn’t room at the top for everyone.

‘You’re special’

The exchange made me think of WH Auden’s poem The Average – about a young man whose parents sacrificed everything in their desire to turn their son into something incredible. But, when he saw himself as ‘the shadow of an Average Man Attempting the Exceptional’, he could only run away.

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