Just So You Know, It’s Fucking Okay To Be Average

Just So You Know, It's Fucking Okay To Be Average
God & Man

I’m a recovering perfectionist. That’s not to say that I was ever particularly good at the things I was doing. In truth, I am a shitty perfectionist and you won’t find any evidence of my obsession in my work. Interestingly enough, I produce remarkably unremarkable work.

When I say perfectionist, I really mean that my sense of self-worth was directly linked to how much obsessive effort I put into something and how closely that effort produced something that matched the ideal in my head. Beyond the obvious issue of my self-esteem being constantly deflated by my own lack of excellence, there was another downfall to my constant pursuit of excellence: I was fucking tired.

Grab any motivational book, watch any motivational video, and you’ll become instantly slapped in the face with the message “Be the best.” How, you ask? Simple! “Be the hardest working person in the room. Micro-manage the fuck out of your day. Produce, produce, produce. Then produce more. Get up every day at 5 a.m. and spend all your hours working. No breaks. Team #NoSleep. Burn the midnight oil. Don’t have any oil? Well, grab some olives and cold-press them yourself you Slacker!”

I saw a meme as I was scrolling Pinterest the other day. It read “You have as many hours a day as Beyoncé. Make things happen.” I was so inflamed that I went to post a reflective Facebook post about the accusatory and self-righteous tone of this meme, but I fell asleep. (Don’t judge me. I had a long day.)

Statistically speaking, though, if there are 100 of us working in the same field and all of us are trying to “be the best,” somebody is going to have to occupy those middle slots known as being average. I volunteer as tribute.

Why? Because being average is underrated. I am okay with the fact that I have accomplished (read: finished) many things in my life, and most of them are only/barely “good enough.” I am also okay with the fact that, unlike Beyoncé, when I misspell my name in a Microsoft Word document, a red squiggly line will not appear underneath it to signal that I forgot the unnecessary accent mark over the e. It’s okay that while Beyoncé wakes up flawless, I wake up with drool crusted into the side of my mouth and an afro shaped like New Hampshire.

What I’m saying is this: Being enough is okay. I’m not advocating for laziness. I’m advocating for something I have coined “Mindful Mediocrity. This is a perspective that makes equal room for ambition and rest. This paradigm glorifies balance, and allows sleep to be a necessity and not a luxury of the lackadaisical. “Mindful Mediocrity” places greater emphasis on the process not the product.

What many of these pushers of motivational oppression don’t detail, as they compare you to Steve Jobs, is the price of excellence. It often comes at the expense of their relationships with their spouses and kids, their friends, and their own health and well-being. Here’s a very compelling quote from Mr. Isaacson, a biographer who posthumously wrote about Jobs in Time magazine. Isaacson asked Jobs his feelings about being father, and Jobs replied, “It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done.”

See? Steve Jobs said that, not me. Being Average is not a death sentence, and being “The Best” isn’t an accurate marker of success. A well-rounded life may look average to you and others, but it’s infinitely more full and valuable. Our expectations of ourselves can leave room for growth while still being reasonable and merciful.

If being more present with our children, spouses, friends, family means that we sacrifice excellence in our work, perhaps that is good enough. Perhaps that is true excellence.

I’m a single woman with kids. I can’t do all the things that I imagine, at the level to which I would like. Sleep cannot be a luxury if I’m to be anything close to a decent mother. Yet and still, some days I make miracles happen. Other days, I’m lucky if I can make pants happen. If both my kids have matching socks on, you can’t tell me I’m not the shit that day. That I even bother to get up some days is excellence at its finest.

And some days, I could give Beyoncé a lesson in multi-tasking. I constantly feel behind and never feel that anything I do is excellent. I am the Queen of Doing Many Things In An Average Way. And perhaps, given my own life, that is my own way of being the best. The Best Me.

So fuck those videos and TED Talks and podcasts that continuously tell you, in motivational ways, that you ain’t shit. That tell you the work you’re doing isn’t enough. Do You, the best way you can, with the life that you have. If it looks average, that’s okay. You’re in good company. TC mark

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