The suffocating infractions of mediocrity


Mediocrity has always existed in the collection of moments that have created my life; it’s always been there, sitting next to me.

It held my hand as I learned how to walk, whispering comforting words into my ear with every step I took forward. It told me I’m good enough and that there was no need to try harder.

It continued to watch over me as I encountered a number of fundamental milestones. I learned how to ride a bike, but I struggled to take off my training wheels. I learned how to swim, but I always feared to touch the bottom of the pool.

I blamed fear for my unwillingness to leap. I used safety as my defense and common sense as my seatbelt. Although I remained physically safe, mediocrity seeped through the pores of my skin and intensified its slow, baneful intrusion into my life.

An overriding fear of irregularity followed me as I grew, and, coincidently, the comforting words began to harden with each passing year. It formed pebbles that piled on top of each other, slowly building a wall that encompassed my world. Comfort became an excuse, and it dampened my life.

I was trapped inside the walls of mediocrity while simultaneously unaware of its suffocating infractions.

I believed that hiding ran concurrently with living. I tied my vocal cords in order to not cause a ripple of commotion, and I observed in lieu of engagement. The never-ending fear of being different than others tied my hands behind my back, so, in response, I assimilated with everyone else in order to calm the fire inside of me.

I struggled to leap, and I blame my own mediocrity for holding me back.

The pressure of conforming to a conventional idea of living magnified as my age turned from single to double digits. I noticed that being mediocre became something that was looked down upon, and people told me to stay true to myself and not care what others think. Yet, their actions told a different story as they laughed at the kid with the purple hair and the broken backpack. Mediocrity was looked down upon, but so was individuality.

It confused me, and this confusion has never faded. For some time, I ignored the disarray of thoughts that were laced with fragments of anger, and I continued to abide by my comforting ways. I continued to hide behind my barricading walls, forbidding too loud of an existence.

Somewhere between the lines of confusion and anger, I eventually let go. I stopped caring.

I realized that many people claim individuality and a personal separation from mediocrity, yet they’re conflicted with the idea of having a schism between them and the majority. They’re conflicted with letting go of the comfort that prevailing people and ideas are given. A desire for normalcy is the world’s greatest enemy; it promises protection when, in reality, all it does is hinder growth.

It held me back for many years from the wonder of riding a bike without training wheels because I feared change. I feared difference. However, there was never a specific moment that pushed me to break out of my box. I believe that the moments accumulated over time, increasingly placing more and more weight on my life until it was too heavy for me to hold.

Slowly, then quickly, I tore down pieces of the wall that separated me from possibility. As I did so, some laughed, some watched in disapproval, and a few encouraged me to continue.

Due to living a life suffered by the consequences of mediocrity, I now remain in a corner despite climbing over the rubbled leftovers of my wall. Often, I find myself watching individuals hold tightly to normalcy in an effort to remediate or refine their personal image in society. At times, that individual will turn around and I will be greeted by my own face.

It still runs through my veins, no matter how hard I try to break free from it. Mediocrity will always be there, sitting next to me.

The difference is that, now, it no longer holds me by the hand.