Here’s the truth: You almost certainly are average. And that’s okay. The most spectacular achievements in human history were made by people no smarter, stronger, or more capable than you.
And—more importantly—most people with extraordinary lives built them doing average things.
What is the fear of being average?
When you look at your life, do you feel proud, satisfied, and fulfilled?
Or do you feel like you could do more to create the life you want?
Chances are, it’s both.
Part of the human experience is to strive for progress and growth. As a species, it’s what led us down our evolutionary path and drove us to develop technology.
But when it comes to our individual lives, we often worry about living an extraordinary life. (I know I have!) And we compare ourselves only against those we deem successful.
This often leads us to measure our successes and failures against an arbitrary scale of achievement.
That’s precisely what the “fear of being average” is: It describes the fear (or preconcieved notion) that we’ll never amount to anything worthy or admirable, and that all of our efforts will be futile.
The Science Behind the Fear of Being Average
There are seemingly infinite psychology-based approaches to describing the complexity of the fear of being average. But, at its core, it comes down to one basic concept.
The human experience is a deeply personal one—our egos, our drives, and our personal ambitions create an emotional landscape that is unique to each of us. But we are also part of a species, all of which has similar fears, hopes, and desires (hence the existence of psychology).
These two truths don’t often coexist in our heads. Instead, we’re more likely to focus on the former—our individual experience and ambitions—and how it compares to those of others. This can lead us to feel inadequate, which is at the root of the fear of being average.
I don’t think I’m innovating the psychology community by suggesting that we, as humans, have trouble coping with our feelings of powerlessness.
Think about all the role models you watched growing up who were seemingly “perfect”.
At the time of this writing, there are 7,888,000,000 people living on Earth. At any given time, only around 1,000 of them have real influence over the direction of our species.
That leaves the remaining 7,887,999,000 of us to accept reality: The scope of our abilities is limited.
The good news here: It’s also unique to us. And that’s a huge advantage.
Most of us are average at most things.
Average gets a bad rap.
If you’ve ever looked at a bell curve, you know that the majority of us are somewhere in the middle.
Of course, there are outliers in every category.
Serena Williams is one of the greatest tennis players in the world, for example.
In reality, everyone falls into the middle of the spectrum for most things. Even Serena Williams—a seemingly inhuman and unattainable athlete—can easily be outperformed by you and everyone else in a number of skills.
We all secretly want an ordinary life.
We see Serena Williams as an extraordinary person because she’s accomplished big things that most of us never will.
But most of us don’t want an extraordinary life.
If you were to ask Serena Williams what she cared most about, she would probably list some iteration of the following:
- Her family
- Her health
- Her friends
- Her personal development goals
She wouldn’t tell you that she cares deeply about million-dollar homes, private jets, and extravagant trips.
She definitely cares about building a brand that’s commercially successful. But even that is a means to an end—the end being the creation of lasting value and legacy.
And if you met her in real life, you’d probably think she was just like your average person.
Everything in life is a trade-off.
Life is one big give-and-take scenario.
- Successful professionals frequently struggle with their personal relationships.
- Skilled athletes aren’t always the most academically-gifted people you’ve ever met.
- Celebrities are often just as clueless about life as the fans who react to their every move.
- There are doctors and tech CEOs who live paycheck to paycheck while 1 in 3 millionaires has never made six figures in their lives.
The point is that life is also made up of trade-offs. You have a unique set of skills, interests, hobbies, and beliefs that shape your worldview and drive your ability to create success in your own life.
The Biggest Problem With Our Culture
Nowadays, people have this expectation (entitlement, really) that big dreams can be achieved without any sacrifice. We’ve got it totally wrong, and it’s all because of our technology and economic privileges.
With Google, YouTube, social media, and countless TV channels, we have access to more information than any other time in history. It’s amazing, but there’s a catch.
We’re bombarded with stories of overnight successes, instant millionaires, and exceptional people who look like they’re living life to the fullest.
Since our attention is limited, we can’t process it all. So, only the most exceptional pieces of info catch our eye—the 99.999th percentile.
Our lives are flooded with the extreme ends of the bell curve—the best, the worst, the funniest, the scariest—because that’s what grabs our attention, and attention equals money. Still, most of life still happens in the middle of that curve (even for them).
How to Overcome the Fear of Being Average
As a goal, an “average life” is less than exciting.
But as a result, it is immensely fulfilling.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to living your best life and overcoming this crippling phobia:
1. Evaluate your unique interests and skill set.
You will never feel happiness or fulfillment if you base your dreams on impossible standards. The reality is that you aren’t anyone else and you probably wouldn’t want their life even if you could have it.
Carefully examine your skills, goals, and true aspirations. Then, group them into a hierarchical structure and start working on the ones that are most important to you.
A few considerations:
- Personal goals: What dreams do you want to accomplish?
- Career goals: How can you leverage your skills and interests to make a living?
- Financial goals: How much money do you need to feel secure?
- Relationship goals: Who are the people in your life that matter most to you and how can you nurture those relationships?
2. Realize that success is achieved through ordinary means.
For every person you see getting paid to travel, vlog, or dance on TikTok, there are thousands of others who made tons of money as ordinary people.
- The digital nomad posting cool photos in Peru sits on his laptop running a random copywriting business.
- The 30-year-old tech CEO coded software and cold-called it to Corporate America.
- The millionaire real estate investor saved while working a sales job for years prior.
Society thinks these people live interesting lives, but their daily activities are usually ridden with monotony and mundane tasks.
3. Define your extraordinary life (and how you’ll achieve it).
Make a list of all the things you want, then make a separate list detailing the money, resources, and level of freedom you need to get there.
Break each element down into little steps and look for ways to put them into action.
- Look at how much money you need per month, rather than per year.
- Set smaller daily goals that can help you comfortably meet that monthly target.
- Focus on the people, tools, and skills you need to get it done efficiently.
When you break up your big goals into little things, there’s a good chance you’ll realize how attainable they really are.
4. Take action today.
Life is not a waiting room.
And it definitely isn’t a comparison game.
Instead of trying to conquer the world, focus on what you can do right now.
Set realistic goals, work on them throughout the day, and make sure to reward yourself when you reach milestones.
Stop comparing yourself to people far beyond you. Instead, surround yourself with role models who are just ahead of you in life.
5. Create your new normal.
After days, weeks, and months of daily motivation and action, you’ll start to notice things coming together.
You’ll fall into a certain way of doing things, and every new idea you have will seem more achievable than before.
You’ll find yourself living a life that seems extraordinary to you and most other people, but that’s normal for you.
That’s when you’ll know you’ve made it. And, best of all, your fear of being average will be in the rearview mirror.
If you are ready to start tackling your financial goals (and the mindset needed to sustain them), download our free 30-page guide here.