When I was in college, the pastor of our church was trying to start a teen youth group. He wanted me to lead it. I politely declined. I wanted nothing to do with it. He ended up sort of tricking me into it — using my own niece against me — and I was furious.
I was furious because I don’t want to be anyone’s role model. Ever. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. I don’t like the attention. I don’t want you to look to me for advice. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’m flawed. I’m imperfect. I’ve got secrets. I don’t want to be a leader. I don’t want to be a boss. I don’t want to win.
Because there’s a lot of pressure there at the top. It’s a constant struggle to stay there. Everyone wants to take you down. Lots of people take sick pleasure in watching you fall. You know this, right? It’s human nature and it’s sort of sick.
I learned long ago that perfectionism is a path to misery. I’m OK with mistakes. I’m OK with Bs and Cs. I’m OK with 2nd or 3rd or 5th place.
I prefer to swim safely and comfortably in mediocrity. Maybe it’s because I’m a middle child. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl who realized early on the impossible standards women are held to and just decided to opt out. Maybe it’s because I came of age in the ’80s and am a true blue member of the slacker generation. Maybe it’s because I just don’t want to work that hard for anything ever. (It’s probably that.)
Saturday afternoon I was simultaneously working on a freelance story on my desktop computer, while occasionally scrolling Facebook on my laptop. (I so have ADHD, I realize this now.)
It was a big day for most of my friends — their kids were all competing in district events — cross-country, band competitions, and other ball-related sports. Many were going onto States.
I was happy for them and for their kids, but I was also thinking: Shit, seems like a lot of pressure. I wouldn’t want to be that kid….everyone expecting the best from them all the time.
My kids? Well…they were hanging with their cousin and grandmother at a local hay ride/scavenger hunt. And…..here was the big news Saturday….Kelly managed to take care of getting her own flu shot (these are a requirement when you work part-time at a nursing home). Yep….she walked into a pharmacy and got it done….all by herself. Woot! #winning
I was seriously as proud of that accomplishment as I would’ve been if she had ran at districts or won a trophy for this or that or brought home all As on her last report card. Because being able to take care of yourself is important. It’s the real end goal in parenting, isn’t it? Self-sufficiency.
Be a good person. Be kind. Be considerate of other peoples’ feelings and try not to hurt them. Take care of yourself. Be happy with who you are and what you’ve accomplished, even if it’s mediocre by society’s unrealistic, bullshit standards.
It’s enough for me. I hope it will be enough for them.
What if I embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. Make peace with who I am and what I need and honor your right to do the same. Accept that all I really want is a small, slow, simple life. A mediocre life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. I think it is enough. — “What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?” from A Life In Progress
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”