Somewhere in my youth I got the impression that there are two types of people. The extraordinary… you know those people who are beautiful, popular, super intelligent, or rich. And then there are the ordinary…people who have to work exceptionally hard to accomplish things, who have bad hair days, and have many bumps in the road of life.
I imagined that there was some artificial continuum with ordinary on one side and extraordinary on the other. (Although I have never been quite sure what one has to do to cross the barrier between ordinary and extraordinary.)
When I was in high school, I graduated in the top 11% of my class of about 850 students. Somehow, instead of recognizing my accomplishment and hard work, my view was that, top 10% was extraordinary, and top 11% was just ordinary.
I equated ordinary with words like: boring, mediocre, invaluable, and unworthy of attention. (And of course I relate these adjectives to myself and not others).
I spent a great deal of my life striving for that next degree, or certificate… thinking that once I achieved it, I would somehow cross that line into extraordinary.
As a young school counselor, I always had a large caseload. I wanted to change the world. However, I felt extremely exhausted, and unappreciated at the end of the day. I could only give so much to the hundreds of children in my charge. I was spread so thin and I dreamed of the day that I could give my all to a few people, my family.
As I have matured, and have experienced many bumps along the road of life, I have slowly learned to let go of the pressure I put on myself to be extraordinary.
And I discovered that my definition of extraordinary was inaccurate. The ideals that I previously thought defined someone as extraordinary required no real work. And being extraordinary takes work, but it doesn’t mean that the world has to know my name.
Now that I am a wife and mother of two, I love that while I am still exhausted at the end of the day, I feel a sense of great fulfillment and value. I don’t have to prove my value with student growth objectives and professional development plans. In my family I am extraordinary, imperfections and all, just by being me.
So now my definition of extraordinary is a little more like this:
Anyone who does a task, like say cleaning toilets for their family or for their livelihood, without expecting any recognition is extraordinary.
And anyone who has forgiven someone who has deeply hurt them is extraordinary.
And anyone who has pushed through a difficult trial instead of giving up is extraordinary.
And anyone who has laid their plans aside to help out a stranger is extraordinary.
And maybe your life is more extraordinary and valuable than you could ever imagine.