A couple of weeks ago, I listened to the High Low podcast (something I’m becoming mildly obsessed with FYI – don’t ask, I think it’s the posh accents) and the subject on being ‘average’ was broached.
The idea that being just an average girl in a average house with an average income was no longer good enough.
In the same week I sat in a focus group to discuss gyms, fitness and how we feel about our bodies. How brands in that world talk to us and how we feel about the growing rise of fitness ‘influencers’.
The idea of needing to become an incredible, ripped, toned and honed version of ourselves for the benefits of our minimal social media following was broached. Again, we arrived at the conclusion that the idea of looking ‘average’ was no longer good enough.
A couple of days later a mildly irritating personal trainer, who I no longer follow, posted a picture on his Instagram feed that read ‘Train today. To avoid the fear of being average’.
And that was it. It one simple meme. Everything that was wrong with my world in that week.
In the focus group I’d been quite vocal. No surprises there.
What if I don’t go to the gym to feel incredible, to feel like Superwoman, to look like the thousands of fitness bloggers that now grace our screens?
What if I go to the gym to feel ‘normal’. To destress from my crappy commute that I have to take on a train, because I have a ‘normal’ job and earn a ‘normal’ wage.
What if I go to the gym to feel slightly better in the clothes that sit in my high street fuelled wardrobe? What if I go to just look after myself and offset the fact that at weekends I like to sit in relatively normally, not very picturesque pubs, eat food out and sit in front of the tele?
Which brands are talking to me? The girl that doesn’t want to be a fitness model and the girl that actually finds pictures of girls with abs telling me to be a ‘better version’ of me, not only fucking irritating, but condescending and rather nauseating.
The girl that doesn’t mind being an ‘average’ size 12. And doesn’t mind going to an ‘averagely’ priced gym because she would rather have another holiday a year than pay for a gym that looks better in the background of my selfies?
Why is being ‘average’ in this sense something we’re all trying so hard to fight against?
It’s not like we’re not trying to over excel in every other aspect of our lives is it?
Because just having a normal job, earning a good wage, and getting on quite well with your colleagues isn’t enough anymore is it?
Your job title must be phenomenal enough to receive at least 15 congratulations on LinkedIn when you update your profile.
And you must be earning enough money to afford to go the restaurants that everyone else has said they’ve eaten in on Instagram.
(Most of whom, it’s worth noting, are paid to go to said restaurants, or receive food in said places for free in exchange for a terribly lit post. They could well have got the shits from that restaraunt, but they’re odd social media exchange met they weren’t allowed to tell us.)
Because everywhere we look, nobody is doing anything just ‘average’.
You can’t just be a Mum anymore.
You need to tell the world that you’ve been to Baby Yoga three times this week, and weaned a five month old onto organic pots of homemade food that you made whilst also loosing all of your baby weight and still shagging your husband four times a week.
Making all those ‘average’ Mum’s out there who are doing just as blinding a job but may have sick in their hair and can’t get their baby to settle, feel like they’re not doing good enough.
I had it earlier in the year, when my fear of being average made me believe that I wasn’t able to do what we did for Heads Together. Average girls like me don’t make films, don’t get messages heard and certainly don’t meet Royals.
I had to stop and have a serious word with myself to realise that although my life wasn’t glossy like some you see on Instagram, I was still capable of making a change.
And I did.
Nobody takes a photo of their ‘average’ Tuesday night in. Watching a show that’s gained ‘average’ reviews on Netflix. Eating an ‘average’ tasting stirfry that they rustled up whilst wearing an ‘average’ pair of non branded jogging bottoms that they acquired from a relationship moons ago and getting into bed with a book at 10pm after a seemingly ‘average’ day in the office.
Nobody is taking a photo of the days when they’ve got period bloats, and their stomach looks ‘average’ in a pair of gym leggings. ‘Average’ being unsculpted, certainly not baby oiled and absolutely not paired with a face that screams ‘I’m sucking in so much I’m on the cusp of fainting’.
Which makes us look at our ‘average’ Tuesday night’s, look down at our ‘average’ stirfry and stare into the mirror at your ‘average’ looking midriff and suddenly feel not good enough.
When it reality, you are actually really content.
I’m writing this post with chronic heartburn because I had such a shocking hangover yesterday from an impromptu bar crawl with my girls on Friday that I made my fella drive me to McDonalds and watch me devour a kilo of salty goods before falling asleep on the sofa pre 9pm on a Saturday night.
We woke up this morning and had a cup of coffee, a bacon roll before I went to a care home to see my Nan who has really bad dementia and makes we want to cry most weeks, go to Lidl to do my weekly shop and cook some lunches for the week because I do not have a spare twenty quid to spend in Pret this week for lunch. Tonight I might watch some TV. And tomorrow I might go to the gym on the way home from work and I might dye my own hair as my roots are getting bad.
That’s an average weekend. And one I didn’t feel the need to document.
Doesn’t mean that Friday night wasn’t probably one of the funniest nights I’ve had out in months. Doesn’t mean that whilst driving me to eat my body weight in pickles I didn’t look over at said fella and think ‘what a keeper’. Doesn’t mean that I won’t feel as nice about myself as I would do if I paid £150 for the privilege and the selfie of getting my hair done professionally.
Average is fine.
Average can sometimes be great.
But if we carry on comparing our lives to the not real lives of those that Instagram story every waking second of their organic curry preparation or £25-a-pop boxing class on a random Monday, we’ll miss the average times.
Miss the hilarious average Friday night out.
Or the average rainy drives to pick up shit food that makes you realise you struck gold.
Or the realisation that actually, sometimes average girls can do some pretty awesome things, even on the most average of Wednesdays.