What kind of life do you want? Do you really know?
This week I read a lovely piece entitled What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life? It gave me a lot to think about, especially since the tag line of my own blog is, “You don’t have to live a mediocre life.”
The author, Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui feels stressed by all the talk of hustling, striving and improving. She says it leaves her feeling sad, worn out, depleted, and drained of joy. “What if all I want,” she says, “is a small, slow, simple life?” She continues, “What if I never really amount to anything when I grow up—beyond mom and sister and wife? But these people in my primary circle of impact know they are loved and I would choose them again, given the choice. Can this be enough?”
There is pressure to be more, do more, and strive for excellence. Magazines titles entice us with titles like Success, Glamour, Travel and Leisure, and Global Living. The popular magazine Better Homes and Gardens even has the world better in the title- a not so subtle reminder that our lives and homes could be better. It is no surprise that the media regularly bombards us with the message that we cannot be too rich, too thin, or have to many toys- or the female equivalent of toys, luxury handbags.
There is pressure to do good in the world as well. We can’t seem to get enough of Angelina Jolie, her adopted children and her causes. Princess Diana was beloved for her charity work, and though she has been dead for decades, she still garners headlines and not a day goes by that there isn’t an article about her in my news feed. Every entrepreneur who boasts of earning six or even figures also boasts of the schools they build and support in Africa or South America.
The pressure is real. Do we ever have enough? Are we ever enough? Is all this striving worth it? Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui says, “What if I just the offer the small gifts I have to the world and let that be enough?”
Reading her eloquent, passionate post made me question my own motives. Am pushing too hard, working too much towards the life of my dreams? Maybe my eternal quest for learning and growing is a recipe for constantly being unfulfilled. Maybe all this striving for something better means I will never being happy with where I am in life.
What does mediocre even mean?
In my mind, mediocre means something not very good, not high quality. When I hear the word mediocre, I think of words like unexceptional, indifferent and unremarkable. I think of lackluster, sub-par and unfulfilling. If your life is mediocre, then you are settling for something you don’t want.
I don’t want a mediocre life. I choose to learn and grow, and yes, strive and improve. That is what makes me happy. I love the process. I happily take this journey.
Krista asked a lot of good questions, among them, “Is it okay to want a mediocre life?”
Krista has found contentment. She is happy with her life and her role as an imperfect wife, mom and friend. She’s found solitude, and calmness. She understands her place in the world and she is at peace with who she is and where she is in her life.
She is not indifferent about her life, nor does she sound unfulfilled. Nothing about her life says sub-par or low quality. There are many who would envy her life and are searching for the simplicity and calmness she has found.
After wrestling with this idea for most of a week, I have to answer her question.
No Krista, it is not ok to want a mediocre life.
You, and only you, get to decide how you want to live and what makes you happy. None of us are obligated to buy into society’s ideals of what an exceptional life looks like. Maybe someone does want to write a cookbook or build a six -figure business or speak in front of thousands. Someone else wants to swing on the front porch and take their kids fishing. Maybe you want to paint masterpieces; maybe painting cars is your kind of masterpiece.
Being happy and feeling fulfilled, finding peace with yourself and liking your life is the goal.
If you achieve that, what you have is an exceptional, remarkable, enriching, superior, and uncommon life.
What it isn’t, by any definition, is mediocre.