Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How do you define "average"?

Several times in recent weeks, I have been taken to task over the fact that the "About me" section of this blog describes me as "just your average middle-aged woman". I have been advised that this is not an accurate reflection and that I should change or delete it. Oddly, this admonition has come from both professional and personal contacts.


Since I am unavoidably middle-aged, I would imagine that it's the bit about being average that galls. What I should point out, though is that the sentence continues " the early 21st century."

As I see it, the reality of the age we live in has an impact on what it means to be "average". The average woman of my age today is...

  • often a wife/partner
  • usually a mother
  • normally holding down a job or building a career
  • maybe studying (anything from flower arranging, to advanced thermodynamics)
  • possibly dieting
  • probably trying to adhere to an exercise programme of some sort
  • increasingly maintaining a presence in cyberspace
  • very likely pursuing a few hobbies and
  • almost certainly trying to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world.
All of these things are true of me.

Furthermore, my weight is about average, ditto my house and my car. My appearance is unremarkable (you know: neither drop dead gorgeous nor...erm... "unfortunate"). I'm taller than the UK average but not remarkably so. I'm fairly intelligent (I hope) but not in the prodigious leagues inhabited by the Downeses of this world. I am endowed with about the average number of talents and abilities, none of them stellar.

In fact, the most notable thing about me is probably the amount of noise I generate. People challenged to come up with a single word to describe me are far more likely to emulate my school teachers and opt for "talkative" or "loud" than anything else. I've been told I'm like a walking ear protection gear zone. And let's face it, that's not really something to brag about.

In fact, like almost the entire population, I only become unique when you get to know me - put me in a crowd, and I blend right in.

Like I said.



Anonymous said...

Is average what you want to be? Do you want to be just another average UK woman? Or do you want to be someone else? In a previous post, you said you missed being the woman you were when you first left South Africa. If you were to describe that woman, what word would you use?

Anonymous said...

Christy: Good questions!

Question 1: No, I don't particularly want to be be average - it's just what I am.

Question 2 No I certainly don't want to be an average "UK woman" at all! In comparison to what I am accustomed to, this is rather joyless society, on the whole. For example, there is a strange ethos in the UK, where it is deemed necessary to speak of your children as if they are an annoyance, and to long for the day when they leave home. I can't subscribe to that. My husband and I can think of nothing better than to spend a day with our boys. Our weekend squash games are far more than just the opporunity to get some exercise - and witness my husband's first thought when he was delayed yesterday morning.

I also have trouble with the alone-ness of the UK lifestyle. People do things alone that South Africans would naturally do with a friend (go shopping, take the kids to the beach, redecorate the house). In South Africa, people are much more hospitable, because no-one ever carries the burden of hospitality alone. Traditionally, if you are invited to someone's home for dinner, your job is to take the dessert. If it's a barbecue, you take everything your family will need and then everyone shares. Also, people are happy to be invited over at the last minute for soup and rolls, whereas a dinner inivitation in the UK is definitely more in the "fatted calf" league and planned weeks in advance. So, because it's a much greater burden, you can't do it as often.

Question 3 Hmm. I guess I'm at peace with person I am for the most part. I could wish I had more capactiy for serenity and profundity, but I am genetically predisposed more to the clanging cymbol end of the spectrum, and am resigned to that. I guess I am stubbornly trying to cling to the me that I am because I don't want to conform to the British norm, but that has its costs!

Question 4 Actually, I would describe that woman as average, too - but average within a different context.

Harold Jarche said...

So, you're an above average noisemaker, eh ;-)

Rhea said...

I think your list of what makes one 'average' works for me. 'Average' is a descriptor, not a negative. By the way, I collect middle-aged folks' blogs. I am going to link to you!

Anonymous said...

Rhea: Glad we agree, and pleased to meet you!

Harold: You don't know the half of it!