Daniel Mai

I'm Only Average

I’m told I do great work, and that I should be praised for it. But I’m not that great. That may be me just being humble, but I really think there are people much better than I am. I’m just lucky. People tell me that I know where I’m going in life and that I’m doing well. But I don’t think so. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just average.

If I’m doing great work, then it’s because I have great people in my life from whom I’ve learned so much. I get influenced by their best qualities, and become one entity—me—that is a combination of their best and worst qualities. Jim Rohn says

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

The people I spend the most time with either go to the same college as me or they don’t. Online communication has essentially removed physical barriers such that I spend time with quite a handful of people.

And the people I’m around influence me all of the time. No one has a life that’s completely pure from influence. Opinion and dogma exist and spread among people. It’s part of the circle of life. We grow up as infants trying to understand the world, and copy others in order to fit in and communicate with others. You wouldn’t be able to understand what this sentence is trying to convey if we didn’t know this “common” language known as English. Influence had to exist for our world to exist as we know it.

Knowing this, there are definitely at five people who’ve distinctly influenced me. (Everyone’s a “she” for anonymity’s sake.)

Person #1: Punctuality

There are people in my life who are routinely late or routinely on-time. Being exposed to both sides, the less-stressful person is usually the one who is on-time.

Being late is dangerous. It causes stress and anxiety. The late person rushes to do whatever she’s supposed to do, which may involve reckless driving or poor work quality.

But Person #1 is almost always on time, perhaps even much too early to her events.

I guess Person #1 is actually two people: One who is late, and the other who is early. Being a witness to both of them allows me to see both sides, and decide for myself the better way to deal with a schedule.

Person #2: Reading books

This person already knows the wonders of books. She reads books that I would consider “high-level.” I wouldn’t call her a book worm, but she’s definitely a consumer of books.

From her, I’ve taken the idea of reading books more. Perhaps not the same type of books she likes—I’m not quite sure what genres those are. Classical? Anyway, I’ve tried to read more lately, whether that’s physical books or online material. (But jeez, why is there so much “forced” reading for school?)

And she’s even written a novel before, if memory serves.

Person #3: Utility

This person is usually “ready for anything.” She has pens, paper, a knife, a flashlight, hand sanitizer and whatever else that may be needed when the situation calls for it. She has an eye for useful things and aims to get the best that money can buy most of the time. She doesn’t seem to be easily influenced by others and has a hold of her own identity.

She’s evil, kind, dumb, and smart all at once. And she’s a joy to be around.

Person #4: Socially sweet

This person knows how to talk with others. She’s happy and cheerful. I’m pretty sure she lives by the idea to make at least one person smile during her day. Because making someone smile induces so much positive power in how you interact and treat others.

She once told me, “The smile, if it’s wide and happy, is the most beautiful!”

But not only is she just happy all of the time, she’s daring. She’s not afraid to try new things, or go against the norm. She’s bliss and not bliss at the same time.

Person #5: Inconsequential

This person doesn’t treat things very seriously, But in a good way, of course. Certain things I have a hard time to believe are “small” truly are small, like having a random conversation with a stranger. Things can be done with a “why the hell not?” attitude. “What’s the worse that can happen?”

And most of the time, nothing bad happens. Most “risks” aren’t risks at all. There usually isn’t much to lose.

Those are just five people that I chose to write about. Strange to refer to all of them as “she,” but oh well. There are many more who have influenced me in other ways—minor or major. I pick up weird things from other people, like hand gestures or phrases. Don’t be alarmed if I steal some quality about you. It’s because I think it’s great.

So, be around people whom you want to be with, especially those who are better than you. Copy their best qualities, and learn from their worst mistakes. We’re human, growing and changing every day. Might as well change for the better.

Special thanks to my editor.