July 03, 2007

SHOOTING FOR MEDIOCRITY

At 35 I'm still learning valuable lessons about how to live a happier more liberated life. From an early age I have been afraid of being mediocre. I don't know why this became a worry for me but it did and has charted a course through life that is, at times, too deliberate.
The world is quite full already of passionless, milquetoast individuals just floating along; waiting for something better or just content to "get by". With so much beige contribution to the world, the last thing I've ever wanted was to offer anything less then vibrant and unique. When I was a little girl I just knew I would do something significant and fabulous and leave the world changed forever.
This probably sounds like a pretty good life-plan but it has actually created a lot of barriers and limits to what I try and stick with. The standards by which I measure myself are impossibly high; if I try something new and don't excel immediately I tend to quit for fear of being mediocre. As you can imagine, I've tried a lot of things just looking for whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing - that one thing I was meant for. I guess I assumed that what I was meant for would come easily and with such miraculous and natural talent that it would be impossible for me to ignore or deny. Just days before my 36th birthday I am learning to accept that this concept is simply not true.
There are many things worth doing; even if you don't do them all perfectly, the attempt still has value. Maybe I don't make the best pancakes or play an extremely competitive ultimate frisbee game but I'm not convinced I should give up on these things for good. I think there are a lot of experiences in life where I can find satisfaction in the doing and not in the end-product; with these I should shoot for mediocrity and accept the joy that can come from it.
And for the one or two things I do very well - where I hit way above the mark - I can feel proud of myself and grateful for the satisfaction that in those areas I am a beautiful pair of red shoes in a beige world.

Addendum:
Tim and Brandi included this link in their comment and I thought it was so spot on with my post that I wanted to include it for everyone to see.

{image from leahmac's photostream}

3 comments:

tim & brandi said...

My dad sent me this link about a month ago. I think it syncs pretty well with your thoughts. It's good to have goals but it's also important to just do things that make you happy. Or at least to not let the end goal take away from the learning process. http://www.neticons.net/music_life/

ali said...

Tonia, I love almost anything you write. It's anything but mediocre, to me. And even if it's just for fun, I think it speaks highly of your talents. Writing is what you do well (among numerous other things, I'm sure. Maybe even ultimate frisbee unlike miserable me).

And thank you for your nice comments on my blog. Yours were my bright red shoes today.

tiffany said...

Great post, Tonia. The title made me laugh, because I've been spouting my personal theory of "aiming for average" and "embracing mediocrity" for years. I used to be such an all-or-nothing person. If I didn't do things the BEST EVER, I didn't do them at all. Now, I enjoy doing a lot of things, many of which in completely unremarkable ways. It's a good life.

I loved the image of the red shoes in a beige world, and celebrating the things we're good at. You've given me more to think about.