Opinion: ‘Average’ is a dirty word



Sarahbeth Caplin

Sarahbeth Caplin

Sarahbeth Caplin is a senior English major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

There was a time in my life when I actually daydreamed of becoming a warrior — the next Joan of Arc, if you will, minus the tragic execution. While I was a typical teen girl with idle crushes and an obsession with shopping, I knew there was something bigger that I was meant to do with my life. For as long as I can remember, “average” has been considered a bad word in my vocabulary.

The idea of being a warrior — whatever that means in 21st century America — is a lonely one, and probably unrealistic. How easy and simple life would be if I just let go of my childhood dream of changing the world, and instead focused on indulging the desires of my heart. How would life be different if I just decided to settle on average happiness and nothing more?

People find happiness, security and comfort in many ways — drinking, sex, getting high, playing video games and other forms of entertainment. I’ve attempted to find happiness in most of those things. The happiness I did find was short-lived, and often left me feeling lonelier and emptier than before. Something was always missing; I knew there had to be more to life than mere satisfaction. Is it really necessary to chase every possible pleasure in order to live meaningfully? Will our lives be empty if we’re forced to live without certain things we want? Not everything we desperately crave is what we really need.

As difficult and painful as it may be at times, I decided that my biggest objective in life is to live in a way that matters, not to live in a way that makes me happy. I have nothing against being happy, but living a life of eternal significance sometimes requires the sacrifice of comfort. We would never have heard of figures like Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King Jr., or my greatest hero of all, Jesus, if happiness and pleasure were the pinnacles of success in life. Many, if not all, of the freedoms we enjoy today were given to us on behalf of seemingly “average” men and women who willingly sacrificed happiness for causes more noble than simply getting by in life.

The greatest way to insult me is to call me average. I would not wish that for anybody. Our lives become casualties if we settle for idle comfort over steadfast conviction. People can choose to enter this world quietly and then slip out without making too much of a fuss if they really want to, which is their choice. But I believe that we were made for so much more than that.