In my recent online travels I came across an intriguing post, What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life?, by blogger Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui. When I saw the title, I felt as if it had been written for me. That exact question has been swirling through my head for quite some time now, and I found a lot of solace in Krista’s reflections.
Since I began exploring minimalism, I’ve become comfortable with my perceived mediocrity, but the world around me still finds it unacceptable. My life is too slow, too boring and, well, just too damn mediocre. I know this because when I compare my life to what is considered ‘normal’ for someone of my age, gender and education, there are a lot of differences. Take my high school classmates, for example. A lot of them have moved to Sydney, Melbourne or London, and are pursuing careers in business, marketing and the law. They’re confident, charismatic and talented. They’re buying their first homes, going on lavish European holidays and spending their weekends partying with people who are equally as glamorous as they are.
Meanwhile, I still live in the city I grew up in, pretty much never travel and find it difficult to stay up past 10pm. I have a minimum-wage office job which doesn’t leave much room for savings, and when I think about it, I don’t really have any career ambitions. I’m a homebody, I’m awkward and find it hard to start a conversation. I need excessive amounts of down time and alone time, and even the smallest undertakings feel like too much for me. The other night I attended an informal work dinner at a busy restaurant and arrived home afterwards with a throbbing headache, completely exhausted from trying to speak above the noise for what felt like hours on end, and I barely slept that night as a result. Why, an earlier version of myself would have been tempted to ask, can I not even handle a run-of-the-mill social outing?
The present me, however, didn’t ask this question, because I’ve realised that being me, just existing as myself, is enough. I’m shy and awkward; so be it. I’m easily overwhelmed, easily tired, and I can handle that. I’m good at lots of things but no genius, and that’s ok. I’m not confident or charismatic, but in my own small way I’m important. I care about other people and their feelings, I care about the environment, and I appreciate the little things in life. Best and most excitingly of all, I’m growing as a person. Since I embarked on my journey towards a simpler life, I’ve noticed that the world seems easier to handle. I now barely even notice the things that used to annoy me. The stuff I was drawn to in shop displays just doesn’t appeal to me any longer. The horrible people who upset or angered me in the past don’t even show up on my emotional radar. Now instead of trying to achieve, I’m quite alright just drifting along and figuring out who I am.
Am I mediocre? Well, I’m divided on the terminology here. If living a smaller, simpler life is mediocre, then sign me up, but on the other hand I feel the word is loaded with negative implications. To me, mediocrity means unoriginality, banality, mindless following of the crowd. I prefer the word simplicity. Why settle for more when you can settle for less? Less stress and less stuff means more meaning and more joy. How could that be mediocre? I say aim not for mediocrity, but for a simple life filled with rich emotional experiences and little moments of joy!