Do you yearn for fulfillment? Reach for the 'ordinary,' author says

Author Rainesford Stauffer says we should step back and examine our need for extraordinary achievement and find out what more ordinary things might bring fulfillment to our lives.

(CNN)The pressure to stand out plagues us all.

Even if we don't really want that job, that body, that car, that trip or that kitchen, we're aware of the attention given to those who have them -- on Instagram, TikTok and even in real life. And we might feel bad for not having them ourselves. Even during a global pandemic.
No matter the structural inequalities that make such acquisitions impossible for so many or the fact that the value system behind such desires can be questionable, we still yearn for more.
    So often, we want what we think we should want, and that distracts us from figuring out what it is we actually do want when free of outside influences.
      While this pressure doesn't discriminate based on age, it is particularly heavy on the minds of teens and young adults. When you are supposed to be figuring it all out and having the best years of your life, the internal voice reminding you that you are not enough tends to get very loud.
        Rainesford Stauffer explores what it means to be "ordinary" in her book. She says "ordinary is what makes you feel fulfilled and what gives you comfort."
        Rainesford Stauffer encourages young adults to rethink their definitions of "enough" in her new book, "An Ordinary Age: Finding Your Way in a World That Expects Exceptional." CNN spoke to Stauffer about how to embrace the ordinary, why it is so important and the external factors that can get in the way.
        This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity:
          CNN: In your book, you encourage young adults to embrace the ordinary. What do you mean by "ordinary?"
          Rainesford Stauffer: "Ordinary" and "extraordinary" will look different for everyone. It's about how we feel. Ordinary is what makes you feel fulfilled and what gives you comfort rather than what you think you are supposed to be chasing or hustling for.
          It's about feeling good enough about who you are rather than living in this state of constant self-optimizing or self-improvement.
          Stauffer likes to take long walks -- just one "ordinary" way she brings substance to her life. What could be yours?
          CNN: What's your ordinary?
          Stauffer: It's the actions that bring substance to my life, like taking walks, long conversations on the phone with friends and baking.
          CNN: How does one find their ordinary?
          Stauffer: You have to do the heavy work of sitting with yourself and realizing you are enough as-is, as opposed to looking outward and learning what it is you are supposed to chase and figure out.
          CNN: How did ordinary go out of style?
          Stauffer: Ordinariness and slowing down don't map onto a society that is rooted in individualism and competition, which our society increasingly is. Everyone is experiencing the pressure to be better than whoever they are. This "best life" pressure impacts everyone, but the circumstances in which it impacts them can vary depending on their economic and social status.
          I talked to dozens of people in the United States, and individualism popped up in nearly every conversation I had with young adults. It wasn't just about them wanting to stand out, but this feeling that they had to stand alone. They felt guilty for feeling lonely and believed they should be able to do everything by themselves, which is harder than ever.
          I spoke to so many young people who struggle to get basic needs met, which doesn't just apply to young people by any means. They're dealing with a lack of living wages, lack of physical and mental health care, the cost of higher education and working multiple jobs while still being in school and it's never enough.
          Stauffer urges people to take the time "of just being" -- free from the constant quest of self-improving and conquering the next goal.
          CNN: What is being lost now that being ordinary is so hard, whether for personal reasons, structural reasons, or both?
          Stauffer: The idea of just being is really import