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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Belonging to an average world

The world in numbers

We live in an average world. For anything to be perfect in our world, it has to fit in a range. There are proportions to describe beauty, intelligence and every other attribute. People may detest Maths but they worship these numbers religiously.

In college, one of my Professors, Umarji Sir used to tell us a story about what actually an average is.

Story of an average

There was a family which consisted of father, mother and two kids. Once, while travelling, they came across a lake. There wasn’t any boat or bridge in sight and they weren’t good swimmers. But, they had to go across the lake. The father spotted a board which read, average depth of the water 4 ft. The family was overjoyed. They could easily cross the lake. Even their youngest was 4ft 6 inches. So, they tried crossing it.

What the family failed to understand was average is just the mean of the extremes. The lake was 10 ft deep in the middle. He used to explain this story for us to understand that just because patient’s report doesn’t fall exactly in the normal range doesn’t mean that something is wrong. The results could be normal for that person. You have to clinically co-ordinate the reports with lab results.

Quest of belonging 

Every normal person doesn’t have to fit in some prescribed behaviour or physical patterns. The problem with not being average is that you don’t fit. We, humans are born with a yearning for belonging. This belonging often comes in the guise of a prescribed criteria. You can’t be too short, too tall, too bookish or too anything. People try to change themselves so as to fit in these average proportions.

This quest to fit in starts from schools and continues all our life. My friend from school never told any other friends that she loved to wear traditional outfits because that was considered uncool and she never wore them. I cannot say that I’ve never done it because I have. I still say, I can’t remember when my friend talks about anything. Why? Because, if you have a practice of remembering everything from what happened that other day to what your teacher taught in class, you are officially weird. And the saddest part is, in school, I have joined this charade where someone is called odd because they don’t fit.

The only place where everyone belongs even if they are totally different is home. This is the reason perhaps, that home is the comfort of our life. Home is where there is no quest for belonging, you can be yourself, you always belong. Like this line, click to tweet.

The dreaded duo


Belonging to an average worldAnd then, there are those two words, above average and below average. Above average is considered better than below average. At least, people will respect you after you grow up. The below average are barely tolerated. I think it’s just ignorance on the part of society. Average doesn’t mean normal. And who calculates this average anyway? How do you know it doesn’t keep changing everyday, every minute?

After the childhood where every one likes to be normal, at adulthood there’s a competition to become above average. The truth is that those are just numbers. The people who keep on competing all their life never actually cross the winning line. Like this line, click to tweet.

Everybody is running a different race so how can you decide an average? To decide an average, all the data has to be from the same set. We cannot calculate an average by collecting some data from unrelated sets. Similarly, it isn’t right to consider humans as a set and mix up our individual personalities.

If you want to live life respecting these norms then, you should definitely try this. Find out the average of everything, beauty, looks, intelligence, attitude and every other quality and see how you fit in that box. Everyone will find the same thing. Completely average doesn’t exist. There will many parameters where you perform above and below average. These blend different levels of different qualities is the fact which make us what we are, unique.

Have you ever tried to do something to fit in a group? Or have you not welcomed someone in your group because they don’t fit your criteria? Do share your memories. I’d love to hear from you.


  1. I love wearing saris and traditional dress but now-a-days just to avoid unwanted attention, constant staring, and curiosity of others I wear western dresses :(

    1. There are so many ways we need to adapt because of society. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Very nicely presented, Kiran. Pertinent points indeed.
    We all love to belong & to fit in the group. At home we are accepted the way we are.
    But, why lose our individuality, when God has made us unique! Let's all tolerate & celebrate the differences & add to life's experience:)

    1. Thanks, Anita. We indeed need to celebrate our differences for a happy world.

  3. A very apt article which gives a lot of food for thought & introspection.We shy away from becoming the best we can in order to fit in- be like the '' average' in the group

  4. Very relevant topic for today's children where there is cut throat competition. Each child has his/her own talents, yet unfortunately they are not recognised and they are scrutinized en mass, so the term average comes in. Wish each talent was recognized so that they stand out distinctly.

    1. I wish that too.
      "If a fish is judged by it's ability to climb a tree, it will pass all it's life believing itself stupid." -Einstein

  5. More than the article I would like to tell about the writer. The writer has surely grown in terms of thinking deeply and bringing clear conclusions. To be think like she has done for this articles is brilliant!

    Keep Writing Kiran.

  6. A very thoughtful post Kiran. I agree that we cannot calculate an average by collecting some data from unrelated sets. However we are conditioned in a way that anywhere we go we are expected to fit in and similarly we expect others to fit in to our criteria. Perhaps we can make it easier for others by expanding our acceptance criteria or tolerance levels for what we consider as below average.

    1. Thanks Somali. We do need to expand our acceptance criteria to fit in people.


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