Author, Cheri Felix rides Fruita
Another weekly column from our guest writer Cheri Felix
Sometimes when I am talking about how great my three kids are I make sure to joke that although they are amazing that they are average kids. I mean this to say, yes they are clever and dedicated and excited about school but that they are normal average kids. People always laugh. Nervously. And when I talk about me and my mountain biking obsession (let’s call a spade a spade), I’m always sure to say that I’m an average mountain biker. Some people take a pause at this point. Especially if they’ve ridden with me or seen the photos on Facebook or heard me talk (endlessly) about my bike. And for some reason it’s so hard for people to hear others talk about themselves as average. Because I guess we’re all supposed to be above average or amazing or elite or fill in the blank.
When did average become such a bad word? I mean, when I talk about my weight, I like to say I’m about average in the weight department and when I talk about my looks, I use the word average too. When I describe my height, I aspire to average. I’m 5’3”. I’d also say I aspire to average when it comes to cleaning the house, flossing my teeth and keeping my car clean. And that all sounds okay but when it comes to abilities and knowledge, we all seem to want to be above average or amazing or incredible or gasp p-e-r-f-e-c-t.
Average is defined as the result obtained by adding several quantities together and then dividing this total by the number of quantities; the mean. For my purposes, that might mean if I am riding with you and you, I’m above average. If I am riding with you and you, I’m average. And yes, sometimes if I’m riding with you and you and you, I’m way way below average. And of course it depends on terrain and altitude and let’s even throw in time of the month. These I would call variables (although you might not) and these can change and so can the results.
This summer, I was racing short track and I got my butt handed to me on a less than silver platter. Last place. That had not happened in a long time. And my oldest girl was deeply affected by this and she started to cry and said, “I don’t want mommy to come in last place.” My husband tried to tell her that mommy doesn’t mind coming in last place that she goes out and tries her best. I would add that losing is never fun but at least I’m out there. And, losing doesn’t mean I suck. It just means, everyone else was better than me (that night). I can accept defeat. I can accept that I’m average. Because being average in this town isn’t half bad.
What’s my point in case it hasn’t been clear? Only a handful of people get to be exceptional. Only a handful of people get to be Michael Phelps and only three people get to stand on a podium. Forget the labels. Forget the podium. Forget your inner critic. Just ride your bike. Because you can.