Personal Reflection: Quitting and Mediocrity.

When I wrote the blogs about quitting and mediocrity, I had no idea that these questions would become extremely relevant in my life within just a few weeks.

Just a week and a half ago, I was a student pursuing my Bachelor’s degree at Purdue Global University. I was (and still am) a full time employee at a busy law firm with a family, animals, and various eclectic hobbies and interests. Academically I was doing extremely well, achieving a 4.0 in my first term with a projection of earning the same for the second. Despite being successful, it was hard to realize my success when I felt constantly tense, stressed, and anxious about the work I had to do.

A typical work day was this: Wake up – Shower – Get ready for work – Pick up the downstairs – School work for 30-40 min – Drive to work – Work 8-8.5 hours – Come home and visit with the dogs and family – Dinner – School work or seminar (depending on the day) for 2-3 hours – Bed.

A typical weekend day was: Wake up – Pick up the house – School work for 3-6 hours – Bike ride – Couch/Netflix.

I had to have an honest discussion with myself; the main questions being: Is this what I want my life to be like for the next 4 years? Is this lifestyle sustainable?

The answer was a resounding “No”.

This decision consumed me for days and I kept it to myself, feeling disappointed that after only 1.5 terms I was seriously considering calling it quits. I felt ashamed having to tell my family, my close friends, and a couple of colleagues that I did not wish to continue my education. That my goal had changed, yet again; another task to add to the list of things I’ve quit over my lifetime.

The thing is, I knew I could do the work. I was (and am) seriously proud of myself for maintaining high grades when I had not been a student in 17 years. To be blunt – I just kicked some serious ass in college and if my education was my only obligation, I could continue to excel and earn my 4.0s. When I started the program, I was concerned with my ability to do the work. Could I take effective notes? Could I manage multiple-choice questions (which I’ve never been good at); could I make the time to do the work? The answers to all of those questions were yes, yes, and yes!

Yet, I withdrew. The goal and the work involved was not suiting or serving me. The benefits of having my free time back to spend it with family, friends, and my hobbies far outweighed the benefits of obtaining my Bachelor’s and moving on to a Master’s program or to law school. My “mediocre” and largely predictable life is actually exactly where I want to be. When it came to announcing my decision, I received nothing but support and love from everyone I shared the news with. My choice made a definitive statement as to where my priorities lie.

So, here is me today, my second full weekend being out of college. I have the entire weekend to work on things that fuel my soul. I have my weekday nights back. I have made regular exercise a priority again for my physical and mental health. I am happy; I am proud to be a quitter and an owner of a brilliantly mediocre and satisfying life.

Is Mediocrity Really Mediocre?

Merriam Webster defines mediocre as  definition of mediocre reads “of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance : ORDINARY, SO-SO

I’ve always felt my mediocrity rather keenly. I’m neither rich or famous. I see talented people on T.V. doing amazing things and athletes achieving astonishing feats! While I can do many things passably, I am not a true master of anything. I can’t compare my average life and skills with those who have clearly developed and extraordinary talents.

The idea of mediocrity is often scoffed at, as if we should feel ashamed to be somewhere in the middle. Thankfully, the dictionary definition of mediocrity appears to lend much to the interpretation of the reader.

What does the term “mediocre life” mean to you? Does it represent someone being average or is the definition narrowed toward those who are not living their lives with intention?

Stock image via Adobe Stock

Would you define it as someone having a predictable and “ordinary” job and lifestyle?

I have another question: Does your definition take into consideration the socioeconomic demographic surrounding you? It would be logical to acknowledge that what one considers “average” largely depends on their environment.

The Urban Institute projects that the poverty rate in the U.S. for 2020 is estimated to reach 9.2%. Within that demographic, one could assume that those in that 9.2% would consider having a steady job with a dependable income as more than mediocre – it’d be a blessing! Whereas, a celebrity may find the plunge to an average suburban neighborhood and lifestyle as devastating, boring, or limited.

In exploring this topic, I ran across a blog post by Juansen Dizon that spoke to this abhorrence of the idea of mediocrity. Within it, Dizon states:

“But then there’s this false sense of danger in knowing that we’re statistically average in a certain area in life. It’s the mentality of perfection that causes people to be unhappy with what they have accomplished because others are living so much better than they are.”

“And it takes courage to keep an average, simple life going.”

Not everyone is wired to want to be the best or the most successful.

What if a life of comfortable predictability is beautiful and so much more than just mediocre? I think the answers to these questions are unique to each individual.

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References:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mediocre

Giannarelli, L., Wheaton, L., Acs, G. (2020, July). 2020 Poverty Projections. Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/102521/2020-povertyhttps://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/102521/2020-poverty-projections.pdf-projections.pdf

Dizon, J. (2018, April 15). Here’s Why Being Average is Absolutely Okay [Web log post]. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://thoughtcatalog.com/juansen-dizon/2018/04/heres-why-being-average-is-absolutely-okay/