We live in a culture of Success and Achievement. Career pinnacles, celebrity, fifteen-minutes-of-fame, reality show contestants, people looking for their big break. Little kids want to be famous! Everyone seems to be following their dream, or pushing someone else to achieve theirs.
Ribbons, certificates, letters, prizes, titles, dollars, peer approval, a name; we want them. It may be study, rehearsal, hard work or charm that get us there. Or plain old good looks and nepotism. Some find themselves there by accident. Much of it is admirable, some of it not so much. What does it mean?
It means average is a dirty word. Average used to actually mean average, somewhere in the middle. These days it’s an insult. Mediocrity is our mortal enemy, striking more fear in our hearts than sharks, spiders and public speaking put together. It means we might be failures. Heaven forbid.
I’m not suggesting we stop aiming for our best, but perhaps we could be better at dealing with the times we’re not winning. After all, there may be disappointments, rejections and patience required ahead.
Just as there’s a big difference between determination and entitlement, so there is between philosophy and complacency. Between hope and crushing pressure, plans and reality. There’s also the luck of the draw for each and every one of us. Life is a long haul prospect. If we place our self worth on pinpointed moments, or wholly in the hands of others, we might find ourselves in a really inadequate place.
I‘d love to see us redefine what ‘success’ is. There are those of us who are struggling like hell under the surface, just to appear ‘normal’. There are those of us who start out well behind the starting line in life. Behind the scenes, they work harder than most of us will ever know, just to keep up and not fall terribly behind. ‘Average’ for them, is success. Average for most of us, is merely the days between the wins. Can we please not be so hard on ourselves? Could we commit to more reasonable terms?
Last month I put fear aside and spoke at a blogging conference. I talked about how we all have to start somewhere, and that’s usually small. Some are happy to stay there and that’s fine. As bloggers we are all about stats, readership, reach, networking. But we can’t all have it right away. We can’t all be at the top together, so how about we step back and reframe things, even if it’s just today? No one really talks about this because focus seems to always be on getting bigger. My sentiments were well received, sometimes with praise, other times with sheer relief! Eden Riley spoke earlier and referenced the Slow Blogging movement. It’s a thing! You don’t HAVE to blog every day, blog when you have something to say. Again, more tweets and audible sighs of relief and validation: I’m not a failure, I’m a Slow Blogger! Can I get a Hallelujah?!
Today I helped out a friend. I’m thrilled she let me, because I was able to do something that might make her happy. (The being seen part has this suburban recluse holding onto her knickers a little bit today.)
Life has its twists and turns*, and for me (not a business person or an athlete) it’s not too much about big moments or numbers. In fact the less it is, the better. It’s about being okay with right now.
If additional needs parenting has taught me anything, it is this. I understand that everyone travels their own road. There’s always an opportunity to see things in a different light, and success? …is utterly subjective.
* This is not the post I planned to write. I did not expect to spend hours of today in the emergency department with my poor six year old who’d split her head open. (She’s fine. She got skin glue and the doctor was handsome, so recovery will be quicker.)