Anyone can be extraordinary!
That’s the mantra, and not only is it a lie, but also perpetuates an extremely toxic culture of perfectionism. The irony is blatant, if anyone and everyone could achieve ‘greatness’ and be ‘extraordinary,’ the ideology would lose all its charm and appeal. Human nature is such that we thrive upon carefully constructed facades of both physical and moral fortitude – the pattern can be seen from Ancient Greece’s heroes to Marvel’s Avengers. We purposefully create fantastical stories of indestructible superheroes and gallant knights; we love idolizing celebrities and placing them upon precariously high pedestals. In an attempt to compensate for our inescapable morality and cosmic powerlessness, we hold out this hope to live a truly ‘notable’ life. Hope is a powerful emotion, more so when it is false.
This hope becomes damaging once we inevitably start holding ourselves up to completely unattainable standards of perfection. It creates a toxic mindset of ‘It’s either perfect or nothing!’ and a tendency to continuously compare our skills, talents, achievements, and lives to others, blind to the nuances of differing circumstances, aptitudes, and potentials. By measuring our success according to definitions set by others, we invalidate our own individualism. Needless to say, it’s also extremely damaging to our self-esteem, which in turn becomes a breeding ground for depression and anxiety. Why have we nurtured this culture of unachievable perfectionism? Why have we deemed being average as a colossal failure at life itself? Ironically, this very tendency to aim for exceptionalism ultimately hinders our ability to try our best. A prevalent fear of ‘failure’ prevents us from trying at all. Immense self-doubt and the pressure to excel at everything on the first try limits our capabilities.
Given that most of humanity aside from the top one percent exists in the grey areas, where life is ‘just average,’ why are we so afraid of mediocrity? To acknowledge and accept that most of our lives are consumed by utter mundaneness and routines is actually the most exhilarating feeling of all. Recognizing the limited scope of our lives allows for a true appreciation for what life essentially is- it allows us to celebrate the seemingly unimportant moments and appreciate what we usually ignore. As a society, we’ve forced ourselves to put a price tag on everything, wherein we have to somehow materially contribute to justify our very existence. I think it’s more worthwhile to realize the importance of just living without trying to prove something continuously, to focus more on the present, rather than worrying about the future, to know that it is enough to just have lived — that it is okay to just be. Mediocrity as a goal is discouraging; however, mediocrity as a result needs to be normalized.
To conclude, you and I? We’re actually quite insignificant and average in the grand scheme of things, and that’s okay. It is okay to be just okay.