The Fear of the Ordinary

I just began reading Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly.

She addresses the idea of people being perceived as more narcissistic today, especially with social media.

But she suggests that instead of narcissism, maybe there is a fear driving this “look at me” behavior.

The fear of being ordinary.

When I read this idea, I felt my head nodding in agreement.

The fear is real.

Regular life has suddenly become alarming and uncomfortable.

Questions like, “What did you do this weekend,” send us into a panic.

Did we do anything noteworthy?!? If not, why?!?

Noteworthy moments used to stand out in contrast to the ordinary.

But we have elevated everything to noteworthy/post-worthy. We have raised the threshold for what is exceptional.

It feels like we struggle to enjoy any of it, and we cheapen the ordinary while striving for extraordinary.


We must recognize and embrace the ordinary.

Last Saturday we watched college football, ate ice cream, napped, and went to the park. The end. It was an ordinary and great day.

But the fear creeps in still. Was it “enough?” Will my kids look back on their childhood and remember the ordinary?

I think the answer is yes.

As a child, I remember waking up to find our L-shaped kitchen counter covered with frosted sugar cookies for our classrooms. My mom would bake all night, and carefully frost and decorate over 100 cookies.

I loved seeing that table covered. It was covered in love.

I remember climbing on my dad’s lap to watch whatever random action movie was on TV. I would steal sips of his Diet Coke.

These two memories were not extravagant. They were familiar, comfortable.

And in the moment I didn’t know I would cherish them.

So maybe the very thing we fear–the ordinary–leads to the very thing we want–the memorable.

-Brittany

(This post also appeared on No Sidebar)

8 comments

  1. Brittany, you are so right, having everything elevated to a bar of extraordinary leaves us all feeling like we are consistently “less than”. The ordinary, the genuine, that’s what you point out with your memories, and that is what is real, and what really stays with us when we look back. Thanks for the reminder. I really enjoy your posts. And I love me some Brene Brown!
    Anita

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This essay speaks to generations of people. In the 1950s and 60s, it was “keeping up with the Joneses”. In history, there were those who took over other countries for no other reason than to “own” something more and to be looked up to (or feared). In the Bible, there are stories of murderers who wanted something that someone else had. I’ve never thought of the fear of being ordinary would be an impetus for actions. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely essay! I was speaking to a friend about how ‘boring’ I am at social gatherings. A typical question, ‘what have you been doing lately?’ typically receives the response, ‘not much…’ – always to the questioner’s discomfort. (I’ve never quite understood this reaction.) When I mentioned this to my friend, she broke in after I said ‘not much’ and added: ‘and I don’t start doing *that* until after 10 am!’ I have become very comfortable with my boring, extraordinary life and very much enjoyed seeing its underlying joy expressed so beautifully here; thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate,
      I love that you are so comfortable in ordinary, as it is not always easy to do. Yes, when I answer “nothing” or “not much” to certain questions it definitely gets a range of responses! Thank you for reading! -Brittany

      Like

  4. I can’t get enough of your writings. So very well written and makes you think more about our choices and why we make them. You chicks compile these and start writing a book!

    Like

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