What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life?
Post From ALifeInProgress
What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between. Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?
The world is such a noisy place. Loud, haranguing voices lecturing me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. For bigger and better. Sacrifice sleep for productivity. Strive for excellence. Go big or go home. Have a huge impact in the world. Make your life count.
But what if I just don’t have it in me. What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted. Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?
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 that I would choose them again, given the choice. Can this be enough?
What if I never build an orphanage in Africa but send bags of groceries to people here and there and support a couple of kids through sponsorship. What if I just offer the small gifts I have to the world and let that be enough.
What if I don’t want to write a cookbook or build a six-figure business or speak before thousands. But I write because I have something to say and I invest in a small community of women I care about and encourage them to love and care for themselves well. Because bigger isn’t always better and the individual matters. She is enough.
What if I just accept this mediocre body of mine that is neither big nor small. Just in between. And I embrace that I have no desire to work for rock hard abs or 18% body fat.
And I make peace with it and decide that when I lie on my deathbed I will never regret having just been me. Take me or leave me.
What if I am a mediocre home manager who rarely dusts and mostly maintains order and makes real food but sometimes buys pizza and who is horrified at moments by the utter mess in some areas of her home.
Who loves to menu plan and budget but then breaks her own rules and pushes back against rigidity. Who doesn’t care about decorating and fancy things. Whose home is humble but safe.
What if I am not cut out for the frantic pace of this society and cannot even begin to keep up. And see so many others with what appears to be boundless energy and stamina but know that I need tons of solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy. Body, Spirit, Soul healthy. Am I enough?
What if I am too religious for some and not spiritual enough for others. Non-evangelistic. Not bold enough. Yet willing to share in quiet ways, in genuine relationship, my deeply rooted faith. And my doubts and insecurities. This will have to be enough.
And if I have been married 21 years and love my husband more today than yesterday but have never had a fairy tale romance and break the “experts” marriage rules about doing a ton of activities together and having a bunch in common. And we don’t. And we like time apart and time together. Is our marriage good enough?
What if I am a mom who delights in her kids but needs time for herself and sometimes just wants to be first and doesn’t like to play but who hugs and affirms and supports her kids in their passions. A mediocre mom who can never live up to her own expectations of good enough, let alone yours.
What if I embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. Make peace with who I am and what I need and honor your right to do the same. Accept that all I really want is a small, slow, simple life. A mediocre life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. I think it is enough.
NOW WHAT? The Summer Session of my Mindfulness Journal series is available on amazon! It offers 13 reflections along with prompts that invite you to pause & consider as you begin each new week.
I hope it will help you live awake to the gifts in every season and call you to put down deeper roots of self-awareness and self-compassion. I hope it helps you show up fully – with joy and on purpose – to your imperfect and beautiful life.
Quiet the noise of comparison, perfectionism, and fear and show up fully (with joy and on purpose) to your imperfect & beautiful life. I'll help you figure out how.
Selected Reader Comments:
Mary: The promise of a better life. Ah. Isn’t that the everyone goal? Play the game. Don’t worry if you have to deprive yourself of sleep and meaning and common sense. Just run the maze. That’s the only way to get the cheese. Please.
These promises are like lottery tickets; sold by the billions with promises of ‘finally not having to worry’, but are based on a manipulative game which, again, promises security if only you buy in. Do we not see the depravity in this?
It’s like intentionally making and keeping people sick so that more ‘medicine’ can be sold at great profits, which in turn make and keep people sick, which depletes them, forcing them to come back for more, with the trust and hope and faith that those who are providing the ‘medicine’, food, water and metaphorical lottery tickets actually want us to feel good, to be healthy, to succeed and to win.
If we were encouraged to be happy exactly as we are – for real – the consumerist predator game and the solutions and ‘cures’ offered would cease to matter to us. If the health and well being of the people in were in fact the priority, then we wouldn’t have ‘fight for our right’ for clean water, clean air, clean food and trustworthy leaders. None of this counter intuitive, counter to a healthy existence crap would exist in the first place.
When people realize this – that being deprived of sleep, good medicine and simple health in order to meet the demands of a system that seems to have a vested interest in keeping us depleted and ineffectual – I hope that people will collectively stand and say, “Step aside, you self-serving psychopaths. There’s a bunch of new Sheriffs in town.”
Lorri: Mary, That is actually the same as her feeling judged for wanting to be mediocre. There is also nothing wrong with wanting to be more. I am not happy with just being who I am right now.
It’s ok that she’s is and its ok that I’m not, The world needs both. It needs the movers and the shakers and it needs the place holders. It needs the ones who dream of more just as it needs the ones who want things the same. We balance each other out, like a good marriage.
I love working to meet a deadline, I love working tirelessly to get a better image, (I’m a photographer) I love getting up and working in the middle of the night because I have an idea or because the solitude of working at night Spurs creativity or lends to the solution of a problem.
There is a welcoming peace in mediocre, and there is also an excitement in wanting more, in the race to achievement. So don’t knock the pace setters, or the pace keepers.
Christina: Lorri, as someone who used to be filled with vim and vigor when it came to my job, my creativity, my love life I can relate to who you are at the moment. But our culture validates the pace setters and not those of us that are no longer or never were setting the pace. This piece is validation for those that strive to just survive–to make it through another day, to not be driven, to be mediocre and to be ok with that.
Jo: Hi Lorri, I totally agree. I think slowing down is appealing and at times it’s necessary,. I think we can ease the pressure thought by continuing to strive but being happy and grateful for what we have right now. This is so vital to ease stress and live in the moment.
I am and always will be a driver, always seeking balance but I’m a driver. I want to create a life where I don’t need to ‘go on holiday’. I spent many years doing the corporate thing but after having family I decided I needed something else. Now I have my own network marketing organisation, which is hard work but not in the conventional way and it’s allowed me to figure out my passion – making healthy cakes.
I strive every day to be better and to help others because contribution makes me happy. Basic human needs mean that we are happiest when we are contributing. That can be at all levels and the article describes contribution and all the elements of what makes the author happy.
Your better life may not be someone elses better life and that’s A okay. I genuinely believe everyone has a gift to discover and once they figure it out, most people want to/feel compelled to, share it with the world. Thank you for writing something that has made me think/reassess and thank you for all the comments.
Alifeinprogress: Hi Jo, I agree that we are made to contribute. I am not someone who likes the typical idea of retirement, for instance, as I think we have gifts to offer each step of the way/each season of life. I am someone who requires a learning curve in my life to stay happy and emotionally healthy – so I am always learning, too:)
Gordon: Well, the only thing is… you’d be poor and life would be nasty, brutish and short. Unfortunately, we can’t have it both ways. People who don’t want to sacrifice for something bigger (fair enough) should laud those who do, because no matter what lifestyle you choose, they are the ones who make all our lives better. Dismount thy high horse and celebrate the movers and shakers.
Monique: wow. The line “swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy.,” That’s me.
What if it’s possible to allow that to simply BE instead of judging it as” lazy” ” selfish ” or “not living up to my potential?” Thanks for sharing your perspective and being part of my tribe.
Jessica: Thank you so very much for this writing….really, I’m not sure I can convey just how much this has touched me to my core. All my jumbled up thoughts put cleanly and in order in this beautiful writing by someone else. I often wonder what is wrong with me or rather society telling me how wrong I am to be content with my calm, slow, beautiful to me life. I had dreams but my biggest dream was to have what I have now and thank you for affirming to me it is my life and no one else’s. Thank you, thank you, thank you….
Sari: These are my sentiments exactly! All I have ever truly dreamed of is being a mother. While watching other mothers juggle work and other busy lifestyles with such ease, I have finally accepted the fact that I just can’t do it and being a mother is ultimately enough for me.
It has been such a profound revelation. I feel free! I feel happy! Slowing down and having unscheduled free time to create, play and just “be” feels so good. Rolling with the seasons and truly aligning my schedule with what I can manage has been like pure nourishment for the soul.
I can feel it! I am the centre of my child’s world and if I am stressed, too busy and unhappy, how can I possibly try and raise a whole and happy child? Living with such authenticity has allowed me to feel more grounded than ever before.
I now realise that I don’t want more, I might never be more than a good mother and that’s completely ok with me. I have many interests and invest in my family and friends, this brings me true happiness and (I believe) success. Hats off and yes much “intrigue” for the mover and shakers, but no apologies, it just ain’t me!
Rebecca: I love this .. So much permission here . Actually I felt like u were describing myself … It’s funny I facilitate people to be their true self and true voice and make their impact in the world and what I believe that comes down to is being the true expression of source energy whether it’s being a mom or being an entrepreneur or living a simple life .. Simple doesn’t have to be mediocre ..
A conscious life is a massive contribution to the world whether it’s around a ton of people or just you . its the energy cultivates not the numbers we are physically around .. That’s my pt of view ..what if it’s not about comparing but just about living whats lightest to us? . Thank u for your article .
Sherry: I actually stumbled across this page and ended up forwarding it to my 20 year old daughter who is both consumed with finding her path and terrified of getting it wrong. We’ve had more conversations about “her path” than I’d have thought possible.
She recently said to me “Everyone is always telling me to find my passion-what if I don’t have a passion? What if I like most things just fine but I’m not passionate about anything in particular? I’m good at most things but not great at anything”. I know she struggles because at the same time as she wants impress her over-achieving mother she does not want the life I lead. She’d like more sanity. More balance. Less stress.
She is not me and I don’t encourage her to be. I love her with all my heart and perhaps more so because she’s not even trying to be me. She knows herself better. I am a little in awe of that. Of her. Maybe at 20 knowing what you don’t want has as much value as knowing what you do want. After much thought my response to her was “Perhaps what you’re passionate about is living a balanced life”. I wish I’d thought of that at 20:)
Alifeinprogress: Love how you are honoring and supporting your daughter and I agree that knowing what you don’t want is a pretty good starting place!
Michelle: Wow! I came across your article on NoSidebar and started crying my eyes out when I read it! You touched home on everything…meal planning (I never follow through with the plan and the veggies end up in the chicken coop a good bit of the time), we eat pizza more than I’d like to admit (4 kids, three are teenagers…”I SHOULD be feeding them better than this! I am such an awful mom!”),
I love being alone and get my energy in solitude (“if I love my family, why am I locking myself in the bathroom with a book?”). I skipped the gym weight lifting class this morning because I’d rather go for a walk (“but bathing suit season is around the corner and I need to tone up!!! A walk is not enough!”).
I have a demanding job that I want to scale back (or do something completely different), but I know I’m sending out vibes of fear and scarcity rather than peace and abundance. Your article came to my life at the perfect moment…thank you so much!
Chrys: What if ur married to someone who feels differently?
Alifeinprogress: My husband and I are so different in many ways and over the years have slowly merged in some areas. But I think this is why we do what we can, we take responsibility for what we can, and make peace with the rest. I cannot control my husband or children – nor would that make for a very fulfilling relationship – so we just discuss, love each other through our messes, offer respect even when we don’t quite understand.
Karen: Amen! When we accept being mediocre we don’t keep growing. We settle for less than ALL we were created for! That is not loving our full potential! That is letting ourselves off the hook! God has WAY more for us than we can EVER fathom! We need to ask ourselves, “whose dream is attached to ours? ”
Who will miss out if I do not keep dreaming & becoming the best version of me? Maybe other words like restful, intentional life would work? I’m all about carving out quiet time & not “going. non-stop!” But I don’t consider that mediocre. I’m always evaluating where to make shifts & make the Most of what I’ve been given!
Tami: I really enjoyed this. I think the cry here is to put an end to perfectionism and busy busy busy all the time. There is a MAJOR issue with people trying to be and do everything perfectly.
We have a society of very stressed out children and they need us parents to slow down and not try to keep up with the jones’. When I read this, I did not like the word mediocre because of the stigma.
Most people don’t make a huge amount of money. Most people don’t get noticed by a newspaper or news station and these days I see so many women, many SAHM wanting to get noticed by selling lipstick or candles or oils. (I love many of those things and use them, but I think it can distract from our most important influence).
Many many people base their worth on how many followers on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. But what if you are just a normal average person? You matter too! I think that was her point….that average and ordinary are where you make a difference. I have a friend who has created a non profit benefiting families in Haiti. She and her husband created it and its absolutely amazing.
She has been featured locally and on various news channels in our state. I think that’s great! I haven’t and may never do something like that and that is OK. I have a small singing group fro girls. It’s not huge, but I can contribute in my small way there. But you know what?
I am doing amazing things in my little family on a daily basis. Nobody will feature me and I won’t be remembered by most and that’s okay because the great work of the world is not done by the big things, but the little things that make a difference in small ways.
You are right…we are called to be more to improve and use our talents. We are all special and unique, but we forget that when we focus too much on what others think instead of just doing small and simple things to make a difference wherever we have stewardship.
I think our society has led us to believe that all those things are mediocre. Actually they are amazing and hard and underappreciated. So whatever your calling is, fulfill the measure of your creation. It doesn’t have to be big to be beautiful and to make a difference in someone’s life.
Beth: But this is not the way everyone thinks. My mom is a huge “doer” at the expense of being able to form authentic connections with people. She’s just not that comfortable with a lot of conversations, but her self-discipline is through the roof. She happens to be a Christian (Catholic).
I am not as much of a “doer” but a listener and observer who is very comfortable with my kids’ sometimes messy emotions. I put an enormous amount of effort into their physical and mental health that my mom never did. Things like housework are a bigger struggle, but I do strive to continuously improve.
Does this mean I am lazy or talented in a different way? Which is better? In my opinion, it is foolish to define talent and discipline in only one way.
Sari: I believe you can lead both a slow and simple life while still doing “extraordinary things”. Never underestimate how small deeds and intentions can send out ripples with tremendous effect. This could look like anything! Perhaps being a completely genuine, kind person to all in your world.
Or intentionally striving to always see the very best in people. Imagine touching people with such acceptance. Who knows how someone might bloom or grow or be inspired. How wonderful and no doubt at times challenging would that be? There are so many more examples.
Achieving excellence can look so different. A simple life does not mean a lazy life without challenge, and success doesn’t always look like degrees and kicking career goals or going to that “next level” of whatever!
Aaron Peters: Great little piece. It’s the mediocre (ordinary and perhaps considered average) people that make the world work. Most good managers didn’t graduate from an Ivy League school. There are magnificent doctors and nurses who weren’t atop of their class.
Those who build roads, houses, bridges and great structures were rarely the most academic students. Of the numerous mediocre people I’ve encountered over the years a few characteristics remain static: these people are typically quite reliable and have integrity in all things. I’ll take mediocre. Just be what you are. Thanks for sharing.
Lee: Referring to paragraph 5. Always offer the small gifts they are always enough, ALWAYS! To me it is a ripple effect. Love the ones close to you, spread kindness to the ones close to you (family, friends, work mates, neighbours etc). Spread the kindness within your community (give without expecting anything & I mean anything in return), swings & roundabouts in this world. Give & receive.
Give with love, receive with love. Keep it simple. If you are a stay at home mother or father, please value yourself. Value yourself & others with value you. Enjoy the journey, yes slow down!! You are the only one who has the control to slow down, drop back a gear or two or three. Second or third gear works just fine. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!
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