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  • Writer's pictureConnor Sullivan

The Bell Curve of Humanity

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt and others (I just feel like he isn't the only person to come up with this quote)

It is a very important idea to think about. Comparing ourselves to others robs of us our joy and life satisfaction. When I am focused on what "they" have, I am not living in gratitude for what I have. Yes. This is all good, great, grand and wonderful.


AND


I often feel like a Salieri.


Let me explain:

I first saw the play Amadeus in a movie theater. It was a National Theatre Live production and I was shocked at how much this play spoke to me. I don't think anything has ever permeated into the depths of my soul like this story did. The two protagonists are Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. These two men are composers of music. They are both extraordinary; but while the older Salieri does it at a very high level, his younger counterpart Mozart does it better. Through Salieri, we as an audience get a front row seat to a visceral experience of jealousy. How is it some people are born with "savant-like" understandings of a subject making them revered by others as a genius? What happens when a person craves a level of skill deeper than they will ever possibly obtain?


I don't actually know the answer to the last question. I will be thinking about it forever.

Young people (sometimes) encounter this idea early in life. A young man spends day after day obsessing about a career in the NBA only to tear their achilles and never return to the same level of skill. A young woman spends year after year focused on a career as a medical doctor, only to then not ever obtain a score on the MCAT conducive to medical school. Often met with excuses. Some valid. Some used as a comforting technique.


These realities are very common. It isn't a pessimistic way of looking at the world, it is more so a brutal aspect of being human. All of humanity can be examined on a bell curve. On the two extremes are the smallest amounts of people - those that make nothing of their lives on one end, those that make everything of their lives on the other. Then in the middle of those ends is the peak of the curve. The most amount of people. The average. This means, by definition, most people are mediocre. There can (and maybe should be) comfort in this idea.



But what happens when a person destined for average aspires for more? More personally, when strictly speaking professionally, what happens when I wake up in the morning and realize that I might be just mediocre?


The answer is in the work. Hard work. Focused work. The work that is so hard most people don't do it.

Decided what it is I want to do.

And then fully committing to it.

Actions.

Not talking about it.


Writing this on this public place was the first step I wanted to take in holding myself accountable. I can't wait to see what comes of it.


As Salieri says in the end of the story-

"Mediocrities everywhere, I absolve you."

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