For over a year, one of the words which daily fills my consciousness is ‘mediocrity’ and even long before I started this blog, it has been something I felt pulled to write about.
My thoughts go something like this: I don’t want to be mediocre….what if it is ok to be mediocre….Who gets to decide what mediocre is anyway…..I want to be a full time homemaker, a stay at home mum….but I’m wasting my talents and my education….I need to be an all singing all dancing example of what you can achieve if you believe….I don’t want to meet my maker and feel regret I didn’t really live….
And then I see articles cropping up on my FB feed saying “You are enough”; being quiet and introverted or living a ‘small’ life, is “enough”.
But I find little comfort from these words, offered up like some kind of consolation prize – don’t worry dear, its ok, not everyone can live in a blaze of glory, it’s ok to come in second, third, fourth – it’s the taking part that counts.
I know I am not alone. Just yesterday, I spoke with one of my dearest friends about how, as mums, we struggle with guilt or a nagging sense that we should be doing more. A nagging need to justify our decision not to be at work or our decision to be at work part-time. An uncomfortable sense that we need to explain our decisions away. A worry we are not setting the right example of female empowerment or that we are letting ourselves down: surely we have greater gifts and we need to be bestowing them on the world?
One of the first ever self-development books I read, urged me page after page after page to rise up and be in the top 5% of the population…don’t spend your life floundering in the bottom 95% and I highlighted the words: “Being average means to settle for less than you truly want and are capable of, and to struggle for your entire life”. Ouch. If you are what you read it’s no wonder I wandered into my 41st year feeling uncomfortable.
But it’s not all Hal Elrod’s fault. There are books and books filled with this kind of ‘motivational’ goal driven hyperbole, urging you on to greater success. It’s how we operate: it’s inherent to our make-up and society – achieve, achieve, achieve; strive, strive, strive; get the bigger house, get the faster car, stop shopping at Next and start shopping at Whistles, Jigsaw….and so on.
And if we choose not to? There is an undeniable judgment made by others and by ourselves that we are not fulfilling our true potential. A sense of waste.
But I for one, am fed up of feeling like I am in second place. So I am working on how to feel better about the life we are creating. Silencing my inner critic who whispers, ‘but Kerry you went to Cambridge…but Kerry you were going to do amazing things.”
I have written before about “Unleashing My Inner Wild Woman” and I often think of her: instinctive, maternal, creative. That helps and I celebrate the decisions she makes.
But as I move forward?
Two things: first, I am trying to remind myself that I live this life intentionally. It is not an accident; it wasn’t forced on me. I CHOOSE this life. Equally, I need to remind myself every day to live with INTENTION. So if I am at home with the children, if I am at home making my home, then do it with meaning. Don’t drift the day away, stop checking Facebook – it hasn’t changed since you refreshed it 60 seconds ago…live the life you are choosing, do it properly, do it passionately, do it gladly and don’t feel ashamed that you enjoy it.
Secondly, I have been thinking a lot about redefining our goals.
If, to feel successful, we need always to move forwards, then I want to be moving towards something which makes me feel good. So, I have been thinking a lot about my own values and aligning my decisions to those values, making sure that my daily actions and my big decisions, reflect the values and things I cherish most (thank you Rachel Flower).
Additionally, a few months ago I watched an interview with Danielle LaPorte and I have now also started reading her book, ‘The Desire Map’. It’s about “creating goals with soul”, so instead of focusing on tangible, material items and targets, you first think about your “core desired feelings”: How do you want to feel? In your life and lifestyle? In your relationships? In your health? In your education? And so on. You then determine your goals and intentions with these feelings in mind. If you accept that consultancy contract will that help you feel x? If the answer is no, turn it down, even if you lose money, even if you think people will speak badly about you.
If you are not motivated by rising through the ranks, by earning £x a year, if you don’t want to be a ball-breaking career girl, it makes sense that judging your development and progress by traditional tangible goals will make you feel miserable, as though you are failing.
If, however, you move your life forward towards the things that really make your heart sing, then you will feel like an Olympic athlete who has won gold. You will be taking part but you will be taking part with your whole heart, your soul on fire.
You won’t feel apologetic, and you won’t need to congratulate yourself on feeling that you are “enough”. You will be MORE than enough – you will be living the life you choose to with desire and will be celebrating your many, many achievements. Achievements which you set by reference to how you feel most alive.
As ‘The Desire Map’ says – less striving, more living.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t earn £X a year, but it might mean that you are happier doing it. That you will do so without a sense of battle, burn-out and fatigue.
And for me, it means because I am no longer assessing my own achievements and own decisions in the traditional way, I can stop trying to accept my own mediocrity. I am not mediocre and I am not standing still. I am still using my many gifts and talents; I am living the life I am meant to live.
I have so much more I want to say on this…Cannot wait to explore it more.
ps thanks to Pinterest for the images