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“Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple.” ~ Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
“Do mundane sh*t!” says no one these days.
Especially when words like “average,” “mediocre,” and “basic” are leveled as brutal insults.
I saw an ad or meme or just some image on Pinterest of sprawling white sand, a turquoise sea replete with yachts, and a fantastic beach with the statement:
“If you think travel is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.”
So, does this privilege piece of internet nonsense imply that the millions of “average” people in the world who get up every day and go to their jobs as waitresses and plumbers and carry on in their long-term relationships and make their bed every day and watch their show every Thursday and meet the gang for tacos every Tuesday are better off dead?
It’s not just this image, every alcohol ad ever, every “star-making” TV competition, every social media influencer, and reality TV show ceaselessly promoting the questionable virtues of being bigger, better, brighter more. There is an unchallenged shaming of living a life more ordinary. And that’s the problem that feeds the fame monster, cults, and capitalism.
Average has become a dirty, filthy word associated only with the most oppressive trappings of nuclear family era heteronormativity. And I get it, I, too, am a freak whose flag does fly and I reject the crushing Victorian era corset expectations society laces women in from the time we are born.
But, for all the fabulous, sparkly horses, indigo children, and unicorns discovering their inner lights and lighting up the sky:
There are many middle-class and lower-middle-class Americans who actually—and I know this statement is going to be taboo in the era of specialness-at-all-costs—want to live regular, normal, in-the-box, mediocre lives of emotional maturity, routine, stability, security, peace, and simplicity.
We are not dead inside or dying, we are not deprived of life and adventure like sad, underprivileged orphans, and we are not lacking.
There are people who intentionally practice zen, Hygge, and minimalism. People who value low-maintenance lifestyles to allow for more time to spend with family and friends, work on novels, go on local hikes, mosey to the aquarium, read, or merely sit on the porch in a rocking chair admiring the natural and effortless arrangement of the sky.
Routine doesn’t kill me. As a sexual trauma survivor with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it actually helps save my life. Knowing what is going to happen next, having the autonomy to establish a system that feels both productive and soothing to me, tailor-made to my special needs, provides me with the structure in which to heal. It’s not a default mode I rutted into like a sad, lazy, boring loser. It has taken work and self-discipline to maintain.
I may have enjoyed a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Vegas in my 20s, but even then, not being able to differentiate the piles of clean clothes from the piles of dirty clothes and feeling my backed-up phone alerts get more hostile as I neglected to manage them, triggered severe anxiety that was the opposite of fun.
I have epilepsy, and like many neurodivergent people with Autism or Attenion-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other diagnoses, “epic” can be overstimulating and result in extreme sensory overload which, as opposed to being liberating, can actually be physically and mentally dangerous when left unchecked.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t ride on a yacht on clear waters on a tropical island if given the opportunity. I’m saying I wouldn’t go with people I don’t feel safe with, or without my medication and carefully organized luggage—and I wouldn’t go for long because I actually enjoy my home. It’s my sanctuary, not my prison.
There are people who would genuinely rather invest money in their home than in grandiose, frequent vacations. There are people who would rather invest in health than in raves. People who choose to nail down a solid routine and spend their free time doing nothing but relaxing into the tranquil absence of the constant barrage of stimulation and pressure society assaults us with daily.
Queer people, straight people, old people, young people, polyamorous people, monogamous people, liberal people, conservative people, people who like magical sparkle unicorns and makeup, and people who like oatmeal and goat’s milk skincare.
It’s okay to be a homebody and introvert.
It’s okay to dig the monotony vibe.
And it is okay to not need or want to be a cultural phenomenon. (And it’s also okay to want that.)
Some people get recharged when they are in crowds or performing or globe-trotting. I know that. I applaud that—you doing you and loving it. But it’s not the only valid life experience.
I have no FOMO (fear of missing out).
In the words of Depeche Mode, “All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here.”
Remember: beige is part of the rainbow spectrum of all of the colors in the world.