You are placed in the unenviable position of having to compete for the right to stay alive. You will be matched against a person of your own gender in a series of five events — an 800-meter run, a game of Scrabble, a three-round boxing match, a debate over the legalization of late-term abortion (scored and officiated by reputable collegiate judges) and the math portion of the SAT. In order to survive, you must win at least three of these events (your opponent will be playing for his or her life as well). However, you (kind of) get to pick your opponent: you can either (a) compete against a person selected at random, or (b) you can compete against someone who is exactly like you. If selected at random, the individual could be of any age or skill level — he/she might be an infant with Down syndrome, but she might also be an Academic All-American linebacker from Notre Dame. If you pick “the average human,” he/she will be precisely your age and will have an identical level of education, and the person will be a perfect cross-section of your particular demographic — he/she will be of average height and of average weight, with a standard IQ and the most normative life experience imaginable. So whom do you select? Or — perhaps more accurately — do you feel that you are better than an average version of yourself?
Of course you had to pick the math SAT section, didn’t you? Yes, let’s pick the subject I haven’t taken since high school and, as a matter of fact, the section I scored lowest on when I took the SATs. Thanks, Chuck.
At the risk of sounding conceited, however, I’m going to choose a match-up between the person identical to myself, for a few reasons. First off, it would be just my luck that if I chose (a), I’d be matched against that Academic All-American linebacker from Notre Dame, and I’m not taking that chance. I also think that if I chose the person identical to myself, there’s a chance events could end in ties — can I beat the system that way, and we can both stay alive?
And, finally — and this is where that whole “sounding conceited” thing comes in — yes, I do think I’m a better than average version of myself. Doesn’t everyone think that? Don’t we all strive to be better than average, better than that random person walking on the street next to us?
I’m probably never going to be president or find a cure for cancer — but most of us won’t. That doesn’t mean we’re “just average.” I know one hell of a lot about music, and I’m an awesome writer, and I’d like to think I’m generally a pretty cool, down-to-earth person. I’m kind of pretty, and pretty damn smart. I like romantic things like music and art. And as you know, I have a gigantic heart (that’s all mostly true, except for maybe the “romantic things” part, but it’s a song; ten cool points to whomever gets the reference).
Those may not be talents that will win me a Nobel Prize or anything, but they still make me kind of special. I would certainly never tell my friends they’re “average” — to begin with, it’s rather rude, and they’re not average. There’s something amazing about each one of them. That’s why they’re my friends. Average is boring, typical, the same thing, and I will not be that, nor would I choose to hang around that. The people I know are great because they challenge me and they make me a better person — they make sure I’m not average.
This debate just spiraled into an emotional schpeel, and it’s getting worse right here: If you’re reading this and think you’re average, think again. No one is average. That may sound idealistic or jaded, but it’s true. There is something special about every single person on this planet. If you can’t see that about yourself, how is anyone else going to see it about you?
As if I hadn’t gotten touchy-feely enough already (but, you have to admit, that answer was pretty appropriate for the holidays), I just want to wish everyone — all five of you non-average readers out there (haha?) — a very Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Kwanzaa/whatever it is you celebrate. And a Happy New Year. I hope your holidays are absolutely wonderful. 2009’s been crazy, but great, so welcome to another decade of awesomeness.