The Regular Guy: In Defense of Being a Regular Person

My boss startled as I said, “I’m Jade. I’m just a regular guy,” while introducing myself in front of my coworkers.

She interrupted. Everyone laughed.

But I was unstoppable. I continued my introduction. “I’m the new writer here and… uh, just a regular guy.”

She frowned and whispered, “What you say is what your mind says.”

Ah. Maybe.

But I was telling the truth. My mind was saying, “Hey, I’m just me. No big deal.”

Being a Regular Person

(My first writing job 4 years ago.)

What Does Being Regular Mean?

Here’s what the Urban Dictionary says [emphasis mine]:

A guy who is humble, down-to-earth, open and honest, easy to get along with, and generally well-versed about all the usual things people do. Someone who isn’t power-hungry, arrogant, super competitive, insecure, or egotistical. A guy you’d want to have a conversation with about things like sports, fishing, camping, hard work, relationships, home repair, music, cars, movies, power tools, etc. A guy who will never embarrass you or cause problems socially and has nothing to prove.

Not power-hungry and not super competitive. I love that.

Those who know me personally, you know what I mean.

My definition is that, I’m not someone extraordinary or special (or popular). So there’s nothing to expect. I’m just regular.

My boss, on the other hand, disapproved. Why?

Because she bought the idea that the ones who will succeed in life are those who are extraordinary, popular, charismatic, competitive, and maybe special. Not the ones who are regular or average (I know because I worked for her for a year).

Maybe she’s right. But I don’t buy that idea.

Society Wants Us to Keep Competing

Our society is in competition for centuries, love it or hate it. While our ancestors competed for food and territory, modern society competes for status and wealth.

We compete who gets to win many customers. We compete who gets more followers on Instagram. We compete in schools, in workplaces, and even in our families.

That’s the reason we’re driven to become the best of the best, especially in our jobs or careers. Because if we’re the best, it’s more likely we’re at the top of our game.

Though nothing’s wrong with that, the fact we don’t even know our true intentions drives me crazy.

Yes our actions matter, but sometimes our intentions matter more.

If our actions are driven by ego or a desire to become the best of the best, then we’re probably misguided.

Knowing why we do what we do is very, very important. I can’t stress this enough.

Now, let me ask you, what’s wrong being a regular person?

For my boss, it implies that I’m not competitive and ambitious and I don’t have the qualities that can help the company grow.

Who Cares if You’re not the Best?

I always feel uncomfortable introducing myself to others.

Truth is that, deep within, I’d love to stand out among other writers. Who doesn’t want that?

But not from a desire to get ahead or be recognized, but from a desire to do great work — a work I can be proud of — and a desire to challenge myself and learn anything I need to learn.

So yeah, a regular guy who wanted to learn and improve.

But how I wish, how I wish somebody told me: “You know Jade, even if you don’t become the best writer in this company, that’s okay.”

Because the truth is:

Nothing’s wrong if we don’t get everything we want.

Nothing’s wrong if we don’t become the best.

And nothing’s wrong with a regular life.

The media keeps telling us to achieve more, buy more, own more, earn more and more. But seriously, nothing’s wrong to have less, (and in workplaces, nothing’s wrong if we don’t compete).

Sure, it’s important to pay attention to what we really want and go after it. But it’s also important to accept that life is unpredictable and some things are beyond control and some things, well, aren’t just for us.

That’s why there’s no need to glorify ourselves as special or unique. We don’t need those labels. We don’t need to set grandiose expectations.

Just be honest with yourself — what you can do and what you can’t do. Be realistic.

And do things because you believe it matters, not because you want to be popular or dominant.

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Jade Panugan

Some interesting questions about life and human behavior: What if there's no money? Why we often feel the urge to prove that we're right and others are wrong? Why we react to things beyond our control? Why we hate? Why it's hard to be content? I don't have all the answers, do you? Let's chat.