So, it's a completely ridiculous source of inspiration, but watching Transformers last night made me realize that my entire family is average (the main character's great-great grandfather was an Arctic explorer). Going back generations, you won't find a mention of us in the history books. We're obscenely middle class, middle management, humanities majors who exist as small fish in small ponds, or, closer to retirement, medium fish in small ponds.
That's not to say that we don't make a difference. I've got musicians and coal miners and teachers and tailors in my family tree. My dad has changed more people's lives than I can count (and I know this from times walking through the mall with him, running into previous juvenile delinquents who simply had to thank him for the huge impact he'd had on their lives). My mom taught school and taught kids that they have value beyond what their parents and peers may think of them (which often wasn't a whole lot). And my French relatives battled the Nazis as part of the French underground. So, it's not that we've not made an impact, historically, it's that we've been one of a number, a member of a team.
I don't mind being part of a good group of people, of a team that makes a difference. Genetically, I'm wired to be a small or medium fish in a pond of whatever size.
Theoretically speaking, I accept that I am not destined for greatness. One of my best friends used to introduce me like this, "This is my friend Sarah, she's going to work at Marie Claire." That was back when I thought I wanted to go into magazine journalism. Clearly my friend was more excited about it than I was, because I never quite made that leap to life in New York City.
I have also come to realize that, like Spidey says, with great power, comes great responsibility. With great impact, comes great sacrifice. In order to be the kind of person the historians talk about, I would need to sacrifice the time I spend with family and friends. I would, perhaps, need to sacrifice a husband and kids. The people who are remembered for their accomplishments often have little else in their lives.
Perhaps it's not such a bad thing to lose my drive to be an overachiever. Perhaps it's acceptable to fall back into average, making my small impacts where I can and quietly daydreaming about a sun-filled apartment where I can pass the hours writing a novel that a few people will enjoy...without worrying that it should be a prize winner.