The Value of "Mediocrity"
Learning to be content is more important than astronomical success
Nowadays, it feels like everyone is finding great success at something. They are earning money through stocks, creating online content, or changing careers. People with this measure of “success”, usually, post their achieved goals on social media producing one of the following reactions: envy, curiosity, or indifference. The “most successful” go into creating their own course, so that you and I can follow them and live the lives that we always wanted.
The advent of the internet has kept us in a cycle of comparison by presenting the “amazing opportunities” of our data-driven economy. Let it be YouTube, Tik Tok, or anything else that mines our attention, the internet reminds us constantly that we can have more, be more, and acquire more only if we follow the latest tutorials. Gone are the days when a factory job would be enough to feed your family, buy a home, and enjoy a yearly vacation, it is the time to have 7 streams of income and FIRE1 as soon as you possibly can. Yet, these influences come at a cost. The price is our sanity. By comparing ourselves constantly, we lose sight of who we are and derail to seek outward happiness.
Happiness is inward, and not outward; and so, it does not depend on what we have, but on what we are. -Henry Van Dyke
Thus Enters Mediocrity
By mediocrity, I do not suggest that you should never improve or be content with poor-quality work. Our culture of comparison, however, has placed “success” so out of reach that it feels impossible for mere mortals like us to attain it. If we don’t hustle enough, meditate enough, or take care of ourselves enough, we are told that we are not enough. Thus, enters mediocrity. A proper sense of the word invites us to consider what we are doing and reflect on how we got here. It reminds us that we are not at the destination, but we can appreciate our current location. It is only when we reflect on our journey that we can adjust our future path. Therefore, inviting ourselves to be content with what we have is more important than learning 5 foreign languages, starting a 7 figure business from scratch, or attending a tech bootcamp to quit our jobs and finally find a “happier environment.” If we are not appreciative of where we are, our next step won’t be our last.
We, as human beings, have to learn to not compare ourselves and create a system of appreciation for our current situation. It may not be the best or even a healthy place, but learning to stay still can help us move with purpose.
Moving from Mediocrity
Mediocrity as suggested in this short piece is just another step in the journey. A step to be cherished and understood. A step to be appreciated. Yet, not the final step. Therefore, it’s ok to not have the house you thought you’d have at this point in your life. It’s ok to not have paid off your student loans even though most of your classmates have done it already. It’s ok if you haven’t broken through your new career path just yet. As long as you know where you want to go, these “mediocre” moments will sort themselves out.
And if you don’t know where you want to go, here are five suggestions as to how to figure that out:
Stop comparing yourself to your social media feed. If you can, go a step further and block the sources of your comparison (even if that means deleting socials altogether).
Stop looking for outward happiness as a fix to your inward issues. No amount of money, possessions, or societal status will help with the battle you face inwardly.
Make a list of things that make you happy right now. By appreciating who is around you and what you have, you will learn the value of contentment.
Make a list of things you want to “fix” in your life. Order them from things you can control to things you cannot. Start with the ones you can control.
Take time off. Let it be from your job, social media, or family drama, take time to refocus your life, and find the path to inward peace.
You are enough. I hope you remember that.
Financial Independence Retire Early. A helpful article on this philosophy of money: https://www.nerdwallet.com/uk/current-accounts/guide-to-the-fire-movement/