One of the things that I have found interesting over the past few years is the perceptions people have and how they deal with them in regards to their own potential, and what they can actually do. I’ve been struggling as of late with a harsh realization. I am not brilliant. I am not amazing. I am not a genius. In most ways, I am noteworthy for the fact that I am so very “ordinary”. Yet many would rebut that statement and say “that is not true, you are far from ordinary”, as though ordinary is a curse word or an epithet.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this the past several weeks as I have watched my daughter and her growing tribe of people who appreciate the efforts and abilities she has in the artistic sphere. Here I risk no hyperbole. My daughter is an excellent artist, for her age or any age. She has gone from being someone who loves to draw and making cute picture to making really good pictures to making “oh my goodness, where in the world did that come from?!” pictures. Her Instagram account has 30,000+ followers. That’s more followers than I have in every single social media account combined ;). So many people post comments to her pictures and say “wow, that is incredible, I could never do that!” She handles the compliments with a very sweet grace and courtesy, because only she knows the truth. In most ways, she is a very ordinary girl, and in some ways, she has several unique challenges that put her at a deficit compared to many of her peers.
My daughter has a triple whammy of vision issues. She has amblyopia, strabismus and astigmatism. On top of that, she is also far-sighted. Most people don’t realize that, when she wears her general purpose contact lenses, people are blurry if they are more than 30 feet away from her. The glasses she needs to wear when she doesn’t have her contacts in, that allow her some better distance vision, give me a headache to try to look through. Yet with all these frustrations, she has one very neat positive effect… she can see up close very well. It’s because of this little quirk that she has been able to develop an eye for close details that has enabled her to become exceptional as an artist over the past few years. Still, even with the talent, and the close up ability, what has set her apart is the fact that she put in an incredible amount of time to hone and perfect what she does. She stays up way too late for my personal comfort most nights. She sometimes struggles with other aspects of her life, such as school work, organization, and at times her health has taken a hit or two. Yet she perseveres, because she knows that she is ordinary, and she has decided that the only way to transcend ordinary is to work at what she can, and use every day to get a little better.
She’s a stellar reminder to me that we are all ordinary, and there’s nothing wrong with being ordinary. What’s wrong is if we use “ordinary” as an excuse, as a way to say “oh, I could never do that, I don’t have the talent or a special gift”. Here’s the good news… you don’t really need special talent or genetic blessings, at least not for most things. Being an NBA basketball player, OK, you may have some problems if you are 5’4″, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t play an excellent game. Likewise when I find myself frustrated with my own technical skills, or lack thereof, and I want to wallow in the comfort of being “ordinary”. It’s OK to be ordinary, everyone is, but it’s the one’s that work hard enough to push past others that make them “extra-ordinary”. My thanks to my daughter for the continual reminder, and a desire to keep pushing the level of what “ordinary” can do.