*there is of course no computer storage for uploading a photo but for this piece, imagine a silhouette of a small child on a stage. I mostly chose that imagery to see if I knew how to spell “silhouette” without autocorrect. The answer is a resounding “no, I do not!”*
There’s some study from some year in some journal that revealed the “Better-Than-Average” effect; the idea that when asked about their own intelligence, beauty, athletic ability, etc., people will often rate themselves above average. I was in an 8am Consumer Science course in my fifth year of college when I learned about this study. The course, which I had petitioned to take over some business class, was taught by a facts-centric professor, who saw the world in quantitative data. “Isn’t that funny? That we all think we are better than what we are?” He then passed out a sheet where we had to predict the grade that we’d receive in the course. I was a straight-A student. I wrote A-.
I suppose that based on our subjective measures of intelligence, we can rank people among a linear line of their ability, creating a median that some will rise above and some will fall below. It doesn’t mean that their value as a person is median, or that the relationships they build or the ideas that they have are median. Just that their cognitive ability to find patterns and memorize information is probably, well, average. Growing up with annual standardized tests followed by annual standardized results, I became fixated on being ‘Better-Than-Average.” Never exceptional or profound. Just enough to bump me out of the dreaded middle. And then I went to college, and I met people who were declared exceptional. Who were profound and had the data to back it up. My self-view became skewed. Perhaps I am the median. Sitting in Consumer Science with a piece of paper, asking me to declare myself below average, average, or above average, I thought of how I didn’t want to be an incorrect statistic. I didn’t want to be the proof that egocentrism is alive and well and that we will all continue to think that we are wonderful and our abilities trump all others. I received an A in the course.
Knowledge to me now is trying to guess what cheese I’m eating, preferably with my eyes closed. If I don’t know the taste and texture of a manchego, what am I even doing with my life? Maybe the study with the “Better-Than-Average” effect has been discredited, or maybe it’s been cited over 500 times. When I was doing research, I learned that sometimes people just cite papers in their own work because they’re friends with the researchers. I had no friends to cite, but now I do. Perhaps I’ll cite them here (Cerimele, G., 2022) (Corning-Myers, M., 2021).
The other night I watched Decision to Leave, a Park Chan-wook film about love — what else? If only it were that simple. The man is a married police officer, the woman a murder suspect being investigated by, you guessed it, the MAN. I know that love is not tied to one person. Sally Rooney famously said that love is not a finite resource. But it is hard for me to ever root for a married character to cheat on their spouse with a character, especially one that definitely murdered! The theater has a red curtain that pulls back to reveal the screen and good popcorn, so I enjoyed my time. Although this movie, and most other movies beg the question — would there be a conflict if the characters were in open relationships? I’m not fully ready for that representation, though. Seems like too many threads to follow, both in real life and in film.
My friend Kelly and I have listened through Taylor Swift’s entire discography. Intently. We took notes! We are certainly no music journalists, but I do ultimately think that it would be fruitful for the entire country if she and I wrote a review. Average people doing average work because it’s above-average fun. Folklore will forever be my number one album — walking around the farm, trying to hit 20,000 steps, singing “seven” out loud because no one was around. At YMCA Day Camp (shoutout, sponsor me please, YMCA) we had an annual talent show. I’m guessing it was annual because I’m pretty sure I only went to the day camp one summer, so in my experience it was, in fact, annual. My friend, who will be unnamed but just know that she is the blueprint for a horse girl, and I decided to sing “Our Song” off the iconic Taylor Swift album. We were two lines in before the counselors, unknowingly to lil seabiscuit, cut her mic. I continued, having my A Star Is Born moment. Had I been singing with Taylor Swift in the flesh in that sweaty gymnasium, I assume that my mic would have been cut. Perhaps if Taylor were singing with Adele, her mic would have been cut. The median is fluid! That’s science!
As I write and subsequently post this, it is Thanksgiving Day and my legs are sore. I haven’t even run my annual solo turkey trot yet. That wasn’t a brag. It’s just a fun, subversive thing to do. Also a good reminder to be thankful for the fact that I can move my body, even if that movement is at a very average 10 minute mile pace. Have you ever done something for fun because you like it, not because you’re good at it?
Happy T-giving, swifties!