Mediocrity is a word that I’ve feared before I even knew how to pronounce it. Ever since teachers began scribbling grades on assignments and I had classmates to compare my performance with, I’ve always unconsciously sprinted in the opposite direction of mediocrity. If you were a product of my household then you would bring home nothing less than excellence or face some dire consequences. From childhood throughout my intermediate studies and experiences, the thought that I may in fact be mediocre never crossed my mind. No, this was not due to the millennial byproduct Special Snowflake Syndrome, but rather being raised under the rule that producing what is expected of you (excellence) does not qualify for reward(s). However, as I continue to get older and am surrounded by unmatchable personalities in real life and on the Internet, I find myself thinking… do I reek of mediocrity?
Mediocrity certainly moves within a multi-dimensional space depending on the one defining, the surrounding people who help influence that definition, and other factors. There are plenty of occasions though, in which it is very clear that mediocrity is the standard and the apex. Surrounding myself with people who surpass me intellectually, spiritually, physically, culturally, etc. guarantees in the least that I’ll constantly be striving for something greater than my current self. This then begs to ask, will I continuously find the present version of myself mediocre? Or possibly, it is not that I will find myself mediocre as a whole, but the results of any efforts I put fourth as so. It is possible that extraordinary persons can create ordinary work without being reduced to mediocre as a whole. Is the person who can acknowledge, interpret, and discuss seen and unseen components in extraordinary works just as valuable as the creator, or are they doomed to remain in the category of mediocre? Cue the phrase “those who can’t do, teach” (not something necessarily I agree with).
If mediocrity is largely subjective and unfixed, is it ever possible to transcend it? I suppose if you find yourself walking in shoes similar to Steve Jobs or The Dalai Lama then this isn’t even an issue (if it is an issue). But what about the rest of the regular folk out there, how do we transcend? The Internet has allowed for every user to become a producer making it increasingly difficult to appear a little more than mediocre. Thought Catalog kind of ushered in the era of “everyone is a philosopher with something important to say”, which eventually triggered an avalanche of rewarded mediocrity. This rewarded mediocrity then gets absorbed by millions of mediocre people and so on and so fourth. But if the work brings in funds then there really is no reason to change approach in the business sense. Morally though, holy shit we are incubating a generation of kids who will fear critical thinking. I am probably exaggerating though, but I digress.
However mediocrity be defined, a latent fear will always remain no matter what success I reach. The more time it takes for me to reach different levels of success, the more I consider myself mediocre. Maybe this speaks upon my self-confidence. I think as long as one stays motivated to progress towards goals, continuously raises personal standards, and observes and acknowledges genius, then that is all you can do as a responsible human being; mediocre or not. If skill (and luck) have it you become a trailblazer, then what a blessing from the Universe.