Painfully average. It’s a vaguely fatuous term but complex in all its connotations. When some people talk about being painfully average they talk about not passing maths or lacking rhythm or eating nuggets and chips for tea every day but when I talk about feeling painfully average (actually I don’t which is why this burst of conversation is ironically derived from securing the lock on my deep-rooted cynical cerebral conceit) I mean an all consuming wave of sub-parity, a real definition of my depiction, incessant doubt and instability, and a thought or ten that never goes away.
Painfully average to me is a static state of never being good enough, no matter how hard I try. It’s counteracting with that whiff of regard that you are trying, convincing yourself you’re a washed out footnote in what trying really translates to. It’s feeling lazy and useless and stupid. It’s logging on to social media to discover the sunflower in a sea of daffodils has just been given that promotion or reached a triumphant milestone or being welcomed to work with their dream brand; and you’re just a hovering barren bumblebee unable to harvest pollen, wrapped up in the absence of validation.
It’s the fruition of disappointment and disapproval. The rumination of mediocrity. Being nothing special or noteworthy. Irrelevant in my jaded existence. It’s having zero faith in my capabilities. It’s being laced with self doubt which in succession prevents that flow of confidence and creativity and ambition, navigating that vicious circle. It’s never holding the superior title. Failing to conquer relatively resourceful skills because my brain is unable to gather information at an expert rate. Practicing but never quite reaching that satisfactory endgame and allowing that disabling defeat to overpower my entire being. Keen to build an empire but instead only managing to shelter in a flimsy made tent as the wind gravitates me in a tailspin back to that endless limbo.
It’s stationed below what is expected of a twenty something, boxed in with no way of escaping without the illustrious voice in my head taking centre place on the winning podium and laughing directly at me if I even attempt to ask for help or strive for more. It’s also my own expectations, ingrained and compressed furthermore in a mind running off pure pipe dreams and elusive pursuits, never satisfied or fulfilled with who I am and what I want. Visualising change and improvement and then being stared out by intrusive thoughts of “why bother?”
It’s feeling the wishy-washy kind of insipidly dull. Like a failure. An empty soul. Being behind on the times. Like anything I ever do or achieve (emphasis on the ever) is going to match up to the prodigal son who’s made up of not just ordinary stone but dazzling gemstones. It’s meaninglessly filling the void directionless, mulling over and wondering whether I’ll catch up on the thriving ladder of relationships and career and general success in comparison to ~normal~ people my age. Whether I’ll ever make it in life with that placid, content feeling of value and belonging.
Painfully average is not quite finding my place yet nor fitting into the universally cool criteria. It’s that trivial rejection email or notification or voice out loud that feels like a drastic event and tears you apart. It’s exerting myself with the amount of effort I’m putting in and seeing nothing for it. Like no matter how many hours I put into a project it’ll always be on the bottom pile shielded with dust. Wanting to give up but knowing full well I’m still not doing enough to help myself and taking the wrath of guilt that follows. Dwelling on the fact it’s never me on that pedestal, in fact I’m just on the back burner not daring to make a name of myself or actually being acknowledged to do so. It’s that sickening, blood draining, lump in your throat when it hits you.
It’s that reoccurring phase of being somewhere in the middle, unwavering yet sailing amongst more desirable options. Stuck in a foggy, unclear atmosphere of suffocation and suspension and suffering and then smiling, like everything’s all right. Tumbling in a constellation of inhibition and irrelevance with an inability to go anywhere; floating my way through the sphere on a black cloud above sunshine and rainbows. I’m not moving but the rest of the world still continues to orbit perfectly fine around and without me.
And feeling painfully average isn’t just limited to my inner self. It’s the outer oxymoron. Having a volatile habit of depriving my personal quality by appearance shaming. There’s periods of adequateness, like when I dress in my Sunday best and prance around streets embracing the one thing I am solidified in (style fyi) but then the unsettling hatred germinates and before I know it it’s all I’m blazoned with. Is that linked with my conceptual insecurities? Perhaps. The two are most likely conjoined. But it doesn’t make it any easier. When the mirror is no longer my friend. I’m alone with no camaraderie and just downbeat thoughts circulating. Not feeling funny enough. Or pretty enough. Or striking enough. Or just enough. Being well aware I’ll never be that flawlessly, glossy, witty glamour model with cooperative hair and golden skin and an impeccably toned bod; especially when I’m figuratively strapped to my bed with week old hair, a bare face, sunken eyes and spots because of an unexpected and unwanted pain flare up. Being well aware and predominantly accepting it, but also wishing more than anything I could swap faces, bodies, and lives, with her in the spotlight.
I think I am subconsciously aware I do have reasons to be above painfully average but not the kind I desire, not the type I feel I’m capable of embodying.
There’s a tweet doing its rounds on Twitter at the moment:
anyone who was a “pleasure to have in class” has an anxiety disorder now
— jacob (@jacob_derodes) December 23, 2018
and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Yeah, I laughed because it was definitely a direct attack, excuse me hdu. But it’s not until it’s actively materialised into your train of thought that you start to muse over how the perception of yourself from child to adulthood can be so profoundly different. I was the good kid, regularly praised, breezing through school, plenty of friends and fun and bubbling with that guileless sense of majestic credibility. Only when I started having problems mentally at the end of high school did the switch flick. My aspiration began to dwindle and the painfully average overtone of being utterly insufficient became encapsulated in everything I perpetrated.
Using humour as a method of distraction and a coping mechanism is definitely popular in my rule book trajectory. I can jest about seeing people younger than me settling down and buying a house and getting married and having babies whilst I laugh at farts with my brother on an evening where I eat cereal at 1am and devote my entire slumber state to a new sitcom. It’s okay until that starts to becomes a designated, ineradicable, painfully average fear.
The big PA is semantics. It’s food for thought. It’s a term individual for everyone. And that’s what I am, wholly individual. I’m not even seeking to be highly above average. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into a standard category but I just can’t seem to get a grasp on it becoming a casual phrase instead of an eternal mood eating away at me and weighed down like an anchor beneath a stationary boat. All I know is that when it does happens, I’m enclosing it to a glass bottle and sending it out into my own ocean of forever.