Monday, April 3

Enjoying ordinary

I am ordinary. I'm overweight--or undertall, however you want to look at it. I put things off till the last minute or maybe a little beyond. I drive too fast and don't dust the furniture until some clown comes along and writes "dust me" on its surfaces. I'm a mediocre cook, I'm clumsy, and most days, I don't have good hair. I love writing, I think I'm pretty good at it, but put me in a room with the big girls and I don't belong there, because their skill and their fabulous voices put me solidly in the ordinary class.

But I just read an Oscar Wilde quote: "Never love anybody who treats you like you're ordinary." There are people with extraordinary talents who refer to others as "ordinary" when what they mean is non-artistic or non-athletic or non-something-else.

Oh. But I am ordinary. I don't mind it at all, but why do I--and possibly others--consider "ordinary" and "less" to be synonymous?

When I started this post, I did some looking up--did I ever mention that Google's one of my best friends?--and discovered I'm in good company as an ordinary person. To name but a few, Annie Lennox, Julia Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, and Sidney Poitier have all described themselves as ordinary people.

There was a fabulous movie in 1980 called Ordinary People. There was nothing ordinary about it.

This all reminds me of what we occasionally do with words. I don't think ordinary actually means less, any more than entitlement was intended to be the dirty word it's become. I was trying to think of another example and Google found me this page of words we've changed over the years.

Maybe some of us are protesting too much. Because nobody's really ordinary and most certainly, nobody is less. Everyone has something that sets them apart and makes them special. For some of us, it's okay just to know it; for others, they need to proclaim it. I guess either way works.

This talk of ordinary makes me think of the people I write about. They are all ordinary--not a billionaire, genius, gorgeous man, or beauty queen in the lot--but they are no less because of it. Are they?

It is something I will probably overthink in the coming week--not a first. What do you think?

Have a great week.

Liz

17 comments:

  1. Oh, man, great post! And yes, ordinary and less are not synonymous . . . I, too, consider myself to be ordinary, but not less than others. And now...you've got me thinking about words and how we use and possibly misuse them...

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    1. Hi, Nan. Someone's use of it got me thinking, too!

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  2. Isn't your premise at the heart of every great romance novel? Think of the heroine who considers herself as ordinary but finds that one man who sees her as extraordinary.

    Maybe that's why romances are so popular. Well at least one of the reasons.

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    1. I agree that can be, but I think it's always incidental in mine--one of the things you know are going to be there. And I'm probably talking about outwardly ordinary, too, which many, many heroes and heroines are not. It's an interesting thought. Thanks for coming by and joining the conversation!

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  3. Great post, Liz! And now I'm thinking, and agreeing with you that 'ordinary' isn't 'less' any more than 'different' is 'wrong'...although a lot of people seem to believe that one. I think embracing the things about ourselves that make us us is so important, and it's something I'm trying to model for bebe...and something I try to write about...because embracing ourselves is the first step to loving ourselves, I think. And shouldn't we all love ourselves, especially the parts of us that are different?

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    1. We should, but, oh boy, is it hard sometimes--and it's something I couldn't do at all until I'd been an adult for a good long time. I'm glad bebe's growing up with it as a part of every day.

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  4. Excellent post, Liz! After going through several crises, I can recall rejoicing in the ordinariness of my life.

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. I feel the same way--I love the ordinariness. I think maybe I just don't like the word very much! :-)

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  5. Great post, Liz. On facebook the other day, I saw a dad giving his daughter a pep talk. One of the things he had her repeat was "I'm not better than anybody else. Nobody else is better than me." Ordinary is good.

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    1. This reminds me of when I came to terms with the fact that I'm not a leader. A dad somewhere--I think Reader's Digest--said his child wasn't a good leader, but s/he was a very good follower. Made me think about it and decide it was okay.

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  6. Liz, good post. What is wrong with being ordinary? I have been reading recently about "imposter's syndrome" which is the feeling that you do not really deserve you success. Maybe we often look ourselves and think "is this really me?" Ordinary is fine with me.

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. I've read and heard some about that, too. I've come to the conclusion we're all really interesting for one reason or another.

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  7. We may be ordinary, but I believe we are all unique in some way. That makes us all special, ordinary or not.

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    1. Right. It's just one of those words I think we need to be careful with using.

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  8. Great post! It's too bad more kids don't know its okay to be ordinary. I wish I'd have figured it out sooner.

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    1. Me, too, Margie, although finding it out later made it easier and more open-armed to owning it (another word we use differently than we used to.)

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