What I Want My Teens to Know About Being “Average”

A simple definition of average is: Someone who is just like everyone else; an average person.

What? That can’t be. When did it happen that we don’t celebrate normal anymore? I’ll be the first to admit it and shout it from the rooftops….” I am not perfect, and I’m pretty much average.” My husband and I grew up in the Midwest. We went to a college in-state that was the right fit for both of us. We had wonderful experiences, played college sports, traveled abroad, and landed great careers after graduation. I couldn’t begin to tell you what SAT score was needed or what the acceptance rate was.

We need to reassure our kids that it's just fine to be "average."
What I want my teens to know about being “average.”

You didn’t go to an Ivy?

Now don’t get me wrong. I support challenging academics,  always putting in the effort and doing your best, and setting goals….but not everyone is an overachiever who can do 5 AP classes, 50,000 hours of community service, be the captain of every sport possible, and score nearly perfect on the SATs. I think back to my SAT. I had my #2 pencils in hand, a pink eraser, and my dad dropped me off. I didn’t do any prep that I can remember, and I didn’t take it a second time. What? That’s crazy talk.

Average Joe is ok!

My high school experience was pretty ordinary.

I went to a public high school in a lovely suburb with a great school district outside Milwaukee. We had various course offerings, and like any school, the kids in the class were uber-smart. We all knew them….heck, maybe you’re reading this and were one of them.

When I was in school, the Gifted and Talented program was launched. I remember my mom and dad talking about it one night. Gifted and talented seemed to be quite the buzz for a while. I can still remember being called up to the ‘blackboard’ to solve a problem in geometry….and to this day, my hands get sweaty, and my heart rate goes through the roof. I can’t imagine today the pressure on these kids with the social media component. That makes my heart race even faster.

Can you remember your high school valedictorian? I remember ours. He went off to school in California. For a Wisconsin kid like me,  I thought the coolest spot on earth I could ever go to was Maine and eat lobster….so a kid that I knew heading off to UCLA was terrific!

I have no idea what happened after that speech and how his life turned out. I wish him well, and I’m sure he’s doing amazing things…but I hate to admit it; I did attend a few reunions and honors classes, or being gifted and talented just didn’t come up. Shocking! And how can it be that there is more than one valedictorian nowadays?

Just keep swimming…..

When did this hamster on a wheel mentality creep into our regular cadence of life? I just recently got my youngest son’s class options for 9th grade. Now let’s think about most boys this age…or maybe it’s just mine that sometimes forgets to brush his teeth or put deodorant on…well, he can take a zillion honors classes. Really? He’s only 14. Is there a need to have sleep deprivation at 14?

I thought that happened junior year. (trying not to be sarcastic) There’s enough white-knuckling parenting that comes along the high school journey….why do we have to have heaped on stress starting in 9th grade at 14?

Now all kidding aside….something has to give. There are many talented, intelligent kids out there, but at the end of the day — most of our children are pretty darn…

wait for it….

do I even say it….


They’re pretty standard…..and that’s OK! We have to begin to remember back when we were 14. I know I’ll get the argument that times have changed….and it’s different now. But the brain of a 14- year -old boy or girl is still developed just the same as it was when we were that age.

Is it necessary to have our kids on a million travel teams? How many of our kids go on to compete at a college level? Is it that important to miss a family vacation because your kid might get benched a game or two? Do we have to enroll our kids in college prep courses and tutors, and the list goes on and on.

What happened to getting home after school and eating our snacks while watching an After School Special on TV? What happened to eye contact and conversations? What happened to summer vacations that were just that….time to sleep in.

Maybe I’m just one of those moms yearning for this all to slow down…. perhaps I’m not living in reality of the times….but to be honest…I’m doing ok being that mom that makes the kids put their phones away at mealtimes. I’m ok with reaching out to the coach and letting them know that we are going away to be with family, and my kid might miss a game or practice for a week.

The confidence and competence of our kids have to match….we have to be able to raise our kids to be responsible, caring adults that can contribute to society in positive ways. We also need our kids to be able to know how to change a bike tire, talk on the phone, and, most importantly, we need to allow them to know they’re OK!

Average is normal…and normal is OK!

Just be the best version of yourself and be happy!

You Might Also Want to Read: 

Is Every Mom of a Teen This Tired?

I Have One Question, Where Are All the Plumbers?

About Amy Schmidt

Amy Schmidt is a huge hugger and high 5’er. She is a wife, and mom of 3 big kids. She is a writer and podcaster…and on a mission to encourage and empower women over 40 to put their fears aside and take on this phase of life with confidence. Amy lives in the beautiful city of Ridgefield, CT and walks the tree-lined streets of Main Street everyday. You can follow Amy at fearlesslyfacingfifty.com and check out her weekly podcast which will inspire you and leave an imprint on your heart. You can follow her on FB and Insta at Fearlessly Facing Fifty. You can subscribe to her podcast, Fearlessly Facing Fifty, anywhere you listen to podcasts. Amy’s work has been published on Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Today Parent and many others.

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