- When you’re worried about how you’re doing, the idea of being normal, or on par with the average, can be appealing.
- However, it can be hard to gauge what the average actually is. And if you compare yourself to an unrealistic model for “normal,” that can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
- Here are the statistical averages for everything from physical health and imposter syndrome to overall happiness.
Everyone wants to be the best at something. But for the most part, what many people really want is to be “normal,” or at least something close to it. That’s especially true if you feel that there’s some area of your life that’s lacking.
Whether that’s wealth, health, or general happiness, there’s comfort in knowing that you actually aren’t struggling more than most, and that you are, in fact, average.
However, it can be difficult to tell how you’re doing in relation to everyone else when “normal” is edited and distributed through the rose-colored filters of social media.
To help you get a sense for the unedited reality, here are seven areas where you’re probably utterly average:
1. You’re not getting as much exercise as you should
Health and nutrition are major issues in the U.S. If you aren’t sure you’re getting enough exercise, you’re likely in the majority. Only about one in three adults gets the recommended amount of physical activity every week, and less than 5% get a half hour of exercise every day, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The HHS also found that most Americans have trouble sticking to recommended nutritional rules – 90% of Americans consume more sodium than the CDC recommends for a healthy diet.
2. You’re dealing with imposter syndrome at work
If you’re dealing with imposter syndrome at work, you’re not the only one. In fact, the International Journal of Behavioral Science estimated that 70% of people at some point deal with the phenomenon, which it describes as possessing “intense feelings that [your] achievements are undeserved.”
If you’re afraid that you aren’t as smart as other people think you are, that’s probably a good sign. A Cornell University study confirmed what has long been suspected, since Charles Darwin theorized in 1871 that “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” In other words, people who are actually incompetent are often painfully unaware of that fact, and “grossly overestimate” their abilities compared to their peers.
3. Your net worth is less than six figures
In 2016, the average net worth (assets minus debt) for families under the age of 35 was about $76,000, according to the Federal Reserve.
However, it’s important to note that median net worth in that demographic – which was about $11,000 that year – is a more useful figure since it factors out the small percentage of Americans whose wealth falls way outside of “normal” American earnings.
4. You owe tens of thousands in debt
- Brian Snyder/Reuters
If you’re worried about your debt levels, or that you aren’t doing enough to pay it down, it may comfort you to know that the average American owes about $38,000 in personal debt (excluding mortgages) and spends about the same amount of their monthly income on discretionary spending as they do on debt repayment.
That’s according to a study from Northwestern Mutual, which also found that the majority of those in debt are optimistic that they will be able to pay off their debt at some point, stating that their debt has low to no impact on their “ability to achieve financial security.”
5. Your IQ is 100
When it comes to IQ tests, most people score in the 85 to 115 range. In fact, the tests were designed to have an average score of 100. However, it’s worth noting that your score can change over time, and there are other signs which can be used to predict higher overall intelligence, like being funny or having the ability to focus and adapt to changes.
Not to mention the fact that there has been controversy around the Eurocentric bias of IQ tests, which eugenicists have used to justify arguments around the so-called “superiority” of white people.
6. You have around six close friends
Everyone has different ideas about what kinds of relationships are best for them, and your unique circumstances will shape your experience. But in general, the average person has 40 friends, including two best friends, four close friends, and five work buddies, according to a recent survey conducted in the UK by One Poll.
As for romantic relationships, about half of adult Americans are married, according to the Pew Research Center. That number has been on the decline over the last few decades. And among American singles, only 16% say they are actively looking for a relationship, according to Pew.
7. You’re unhappy
If recent events, or the past few years, have left you feeling a bit down you’re not alone. According to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, American happiness has “remained roughly unchanged or has even declined” even as per capita income has “more than doubled” since 1972.
Though the U.S. is a major economic power, the report points to life expectancy, the freedom to make choices, perceived corruption, social support, and the generosity of those around you as contributing factors to the decline.
Though these statistics can provide a useful way to get context around how you’re doing, it’s important to keep in mind that falling outside the realm of “normal” for any given category isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if you aren’t satisfied, there are things you can do to change your circumstances.