striving for mediocrity

Posted on Monday, December 17, 2012

I remember the feeling when I saw gold, silver, blue, and green shiny stars adorning my worn, white paper; I remember the feeling of a “terrific,” a “great job” and a “super” sticker glued to a class project – the sense of approval and acceptance of being “something.”  As a young girl accustomed to accolades, comparison and positive reinforcement, I subconsciously doubted my sense or worth without these warrants – I forgot to celebrate who I was.  Little did I know, this conditioning would kill my innate sense of being.


As I grew older, stars turned to trophies and stickers became grades, sealing my success and smile of others and forming into something demanded, something I needed every day.  In my career, I strived for perfection, causing myself series of breakdowns and disappointments.  I had to be the best.  I had to win every contest for which I applied.  I became competitive to the point of sacrificing friendship for victory.  I felt as though I, the hiker, was climbing a endless, tiring mountain.


Climbing up the stony mountain, I began wondering, when will it be enough?  Climbing and climbing, I forgot to conserve energy for the accomplishment of the day’s work.  I was too exhausted to celebrate the beauty around me.  It was then that I stopped, looked around, and realized the mountain’s peak never ended.  It never ended.  The more I moved, the more the mound fed off of me and my desire to rise, rise higher and higher to be “somebody.”  As I slowed down and took a few steps back, I soon realized the view was much better from the middle.  I no longer saw an angle solely from above – instead I saw wonders both above and below me.  I sensed the earth below my feet, providing comfort and support.  Clouds sheltered me from the burns of the hot flames of determination.


 It is here in the middle of the mountain, where I awoke.  It is in the middle where I became a part of the mountain.  I call this middle, where I’ve chosen to set up camp, mediocrity.  It is here my heart has caught back up with my mind.  It is here that I have learned I have always been enough and here I hope others join me.


May we stop striving to prove our talents and selves and instead, rest in the truths of who we are.  May we bow down to excuses and joyfully basque in the beauty of our strengths and weaknesses.  May we all experience the glorious Thoreau moment: “I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”


 Through the landing of a sparrow on our shoulder, through the rest in the middle of the mountain, may we celebrate the blessings of being.  May we remove the gold, silver, blue and green stars from our sheets of paper and throw them up wildly. May we see that this confetti is fleeting.


Keep looking above and witness those false stars settling back down.  Catch the lasting light above, the sky hums secrets and whispers below, you are good enough and you always will be.  It is in our very hearts that we are inspired to do good for all in the world.  When we hear our hearts beating with such strength, we come back to being; when we come back to being, then we can do.  When we lose sense of ourselves, we are frozen in our daily methodology.  When we doubt ourselves, fear leads us to inaction.  Let us, like Thoreau, dare to adorn ourselves with a sparrow, a leaf, a hug, a sky, a wave, a petal, a butterfly, a raindrop, a rainbow, a wind, a dream or a prayer, pinning on these accolades with great pride.


What are you adorning yourself with?

Where are you on your mountain?

Won’t you join me in this bliss of mediocrity celebrating you and who you are meant to be?


feature image provided by Elizabeth Magill, Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin Ireland


  1. One of your best! Merry Christmas :)

    • Thanks beautiful Sally. I am very much looking forward to seeing you in January. Happy Holidays!

  2. Jessica, this is life-saving (or at the very least, sanity-saving) wisdom. The idea of thriving in the “enough zone” hit me hard when I became a mom. My previous perfectionism simply had to stop, or I was going to make myself and everyone around me miserable. Life is so much lighter without perfection!

    • Aralena,

      And what life-saving and sanity-saving news from you for me…the transition from wife and woman to becoming a mother is something I have not yet experienced, but hope to someday. You sharing part of your experience in this transition is encouraging, comforting, humbling and connecting. Thank you for all of your beautiful imperfections! You are a wonderful mother and I hope to learn more from you.

  3. This is wonderful. Thank you for writing and then sharing it.

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