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Everyone has been there; arriving at your first class in college with wide eyes and infinite wonder, so comfortable and contented with your own talents and abilities. You raise your hand for a question you normally answer alone in your high school classroom, but now you see a few more hands, more than you’ve imagined.
You aren’t special after all.
You are in fact, incredibly average.
This anxiety plagues all who has ever had the luxury of being achievers in their younger years. Wanting the same attention and acclaim we were accustomed to have given us our biggest Achilles’ heel: Pride. Enter me.
By no account am as brilliant or as gifted as the valedictorians of years past, I can’t even shine amongst my peers. But at the time I was considered a prodigy, winning medal after medal in public speaking, giving my town its first national championship in ANYTHING. So in my youth I was brash, arrogant, always sure of myself. All this changed after my first taste of collegiate splendor.
The year was 2015, and I was just entering one of the hardest slumps of my life. No friends, bad habits, the death of my grandfather and a penchant for getting to arguments with everyone from my teacher to some tubby dude named Dwight. I had lost a lot of things at this time, but never my confidence in my speaking ability. So to find myself being in an oral English class felt like being a fish in the ocean. But that along with the rest of the things I thought I’d do well did not go well at all. I was clearly outmatched, for the first time in my life I felt terribly average. People were making me feel like someone terribly basic, my arguments reduced to rubble, my rebuttals silenced by my inability to think of something in Tagalog. I did not have the same bravado, the same flamboyance in my step that has made me, well. ME.
So where was I to go right? Well let’s not focus too much on where I went but on what this feeling is.It’s the feeling of wanting to be more; wanting to be better than what you’ve originally thought your limit was. For me it was difficult, I was again, brash and unreasonably arrogant. And so this made me have the realizations I should’ve had when I needed them far later and frankly far too late. So this social anxiety arises from what we perceive as self-induced plot armor. And I coin this term because as life and other media suggests we are the writers of our own story and therefore we wear the thickest of cuirasses, the burliest of leather doublets, the sturdiest of and you get the point.
We want to think of ourselves as good, great individuals with aspirations and when the worlds tells us otherwise we feel lost and defeated. We relegate ourselves to withdrawal symptoms, but instead of a cigarette or a bottle of rum, we crave to have our intellectual capacities back when we thought of ourselves as smarty-pants.
To put it bluntly the pressure that we feel about being average is a construct we ourselves create. We are in fact rather special, we are complex wonderful human beings with abilities that far exceed that of other people, yet those “other people” also have abilities that far exceedour own, or along those lines of self-congratulatory anecdotes.