I think I’m starting to get “smile lines”, and I find I don’t mind. In part, it’s because they don’t look too severe yet, but it’s also because it’s kind of a victory condition for me. Getting these particular wrinkles on my face means, specifically, that I have spent more of my life crinkling my face-skin into smile patterns rather than frowns. It also means, as I get older and continue to smile, this is going to be my face’s natural look from now on. The lines will begin to make me look happy in my resting state.
This fills me with positivity. As I look back on my life, it is sometimes difficult to know if I’ve had more happy times than sad. I spent a long time alone and lonely, even in the middle of my family. I lost my mum young, I didn’t feel like I fit in at school. I was, informally, voted “most likely to be a serial killer”, and I accepted this. I moped about being single. I didn’t feel like I was just rejected by the opposite sex, but that I was actually repulsive to them. When I married, a lot of that changed, but then we basically can’t have kids, which was another massive ball of pain and hurt.
However, I do have a loving wife, a wonderful family, some great friends, a nice little house, some fun side hobbies and the cutest, most fun nephew in the entire world. And it seems, overall, that those positives have outweighed the negatives to leave me with a smile carved into my crinkled-up face. I think that’s worth being happy about.
It’s hard to make a living in the world if you are average or middling. This is a huge problem, because most of the world is average. That’s what “average” means. I understand the idea that starting something new, being the boss, doing something extraordinary is the way to succeed in life, but most of us will never reach those heights, will we? That’s the nature of the world. For those who are exceptional, it’s hard to understand that, say, going out on your own and just making a living selling your crazy hats or whatever isn’t an option, because we just aren’t that good.
Is it self pity or realism to know that I am not exceptional? I don’t consider myself a great programmer, nor a great writer or a great actor. At all of these things, I believe I am merely adequate. I am an adequate runner, adequate speaker, adequate housekeeper. What does someone do in the world with a range of adequate skills?
Maybe this is fear. Maybe I am just afraid to start something and push myself to extraordinary heights, out of my ordinariness and into the light, the giddy stratosphere of being truly amazing. Perhaps I am middling because I’ve never been tested by the fire. I’ve never found out what I’m truly made of, because I’ve had it (relatively) easy my whole life.
Whether I’m being safe or over-cautious, sometimes I have this nagging feeling that I’m not doing everything I could be doing with my life. I could achieve more if I were more active in pursuing my goals and dreams, but I still have bills to pay. I have a feeling that a lot of great artists, musicians, writers, photographers, poets, singers, dancers and actors are not reaching their potential because, in the end, the risk of pursuing that dream is too high.