Is it really a compliment to call someone extraordinary? On the surface, it would appear to. I mean, just look at the Dictionary.com definition for the word. How could it not be a compliment?
[ik-strawr-dn-er-ee, ek-struh-awr-dn-er-ee] adjective1. beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established: extraordinary costs.2. exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree, etc.; noteworthy;remarkable: extraordinary speed; an extraordinary man.3. (of an official, employee, etc.) outside of or additional to the ordinarystaff; having a special, often temporary task or responsibility.
UrbanDictionary.com offers a very similar definition.
(1) a very special thing
(2) something ordinary with something extraoh! this is EXTRAORDINARY!
However, the prefix extra typically means that something is more, whatever. Extra spicy is, well, more spicy. Extra large is, bigger than large. By that line of thinking, extraordinary would mean, more ordinary. Is being more ordinary something to pursue? It’s lake telling someone, “You’re so ordinary that you border on cliche. You’re so ordinary, you make average look strange. You’re so ordinary, you make the statistical mean look like an outlier.” Sorry, I’ve been watching too much of The Big Bang Theory lately.
Calling someone extraordinary is to say they have no special qualities, nothing that sets them apart from the bland middle of society. So don’t tell someone they are ordinary, or worse, extraordinary. Tell them they are weird, strange, unique, one of a kind, and it’s their eccentric peculiarities and oddities that make them special. Shun the ordinary, and especially the extraordinary. Be the outlier, and be proud of it.