I’m disturbed. This time beyond generally speaking.
There’s a fine line somewhere, dividing the tipping point between the healthy pursuit of our best and the consuming, obsessive need to be better than everyone else. Last week in my post about “success” (Average Is A Dirty Word), I hope I explained this.
Today my news stream is full of folk desperate to be a cut above the rest (at whatever cost). Sometimes they’ve achieved their goals but are still unhappy (surprise). I keep seeing people go to extremes to engineer themselves and their children, into what they believe is superlative. It screams of performance anxiety. This is quite different to wanting to do ourselves proud. Mixed up messages and extremes that make my head spin.
We won’t tolerate a whiff of “mediocrity” (whatever that is). Lest we drown amongst the dull masses, we must stand out. That’s okay; there’s a whole raft (see what I did there?) of stage/pageant mothers, tiger mothers, crazed tennis coach parents and baby tutoring, preschool administration bribers looking out for the next generation. Their offspring’s lives are mapped out from birth.
”I feel for children who aren’t allowed to be children. If children feel pressured their self esteem and confidence drops and they aren’t able to be who they naturally are. Then you start to see emotional issues and challenging behaviours.” – Michelle Gujer, Manager of the Docklands program, Gowrie Victoria*
“Simple activities done at home such as singing, reading books, I spy games, nursery rhymes and sitting with mum to type an email to grandma are richer language experiences than formal classes and flashcards.
”You can train babies, like you can train a dog, to respond to certain words, but why would you want to do that?” she says. ”There is no advantage because children first need to develop a conceptual knowledge to understand and that comes with myriads of experience. Until you can play with language, you can’t read or write.”
Bridie Raban, honorary professor of early childhood development at the University of Melbourne*
I don’t like Tall Poppy Syndrome either. Once again, a side-effect of people so displeased with themselves they need to cut others down for achieving. Yet here’s a Poppy who might benefit from a dose of humility. Today’s Daily Mail and Herald Sun both carry stories by the wannabe-mediocre Amy Molloy:
It’s hard being a lonely and joyless high-achiever. I wish I could be mediocre.
“Some people can struggle to be around the super-successful,” she writes. “They think I’m looking down on them and maybe sometimes, subconsciously, I am. My very high standards are not limited to my professional life.”
But this reads to me like Amy might struggle to be around herself:
“She goes on to complain that “being successful is torturous. It’s isolating — you lose weekends, holidays and (if you’re not careful) your social life.***
Boasting that she “makes more money than she needs”, Molloy laments that “within weeks of every promotion or pay rise I become agitated, as my feet itch to move forward”.**
If our achievements are not sufficient, we can always resort to changing our appearance… completely. Here is Vanilla (oh the irony) Chamu, a Japanese model.
Vanilla Chamu has undergone more than 30 procedures in a bid to look like a ‘living French doll’
(Taken from the UK Daily Mail, as per link)
Huh? I hear you thinking. Yes- if the UK Daily Mail reports are correct, these pictures are of the same young Japanese woman, before and after her Caucasianisation. Her own mother wouldn’t recognise her. Finding her natural-born Asian appearance unacceptable, she modelled herself on a “French doll”, nipping and tucking herself into one- and she’s not done yet. If heaven forbid, she dies on the operating table- will she die happy?
Once again I ask is this where we’re headed…next stop: genetic selection? No, I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl. Or happy. Just as long as it’s not ugly, or dumb. Or mediocre.
* The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/little-learners-in-the-rugrat-race-20130505-2j11q.html#ixzz2SUSSJ9l7;
The Age http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/is-your-baby-ready-to-read-at-three-months-20130505-2j1hq.html
**Herald Sun: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/i-wish-i-was-mediocre-like-my-friends-how-i-envy-their-failure-writes-sydneys-amy-molloy/story-e6frf7jo-1226635919602?sv=42cbdfc8c2d22b1a5036e7e1f8b63d6e#.UYc3ttSRZOo
Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2319929/A-book-deal-23-More-cash-spend-But-AMY-MOLLOY-says–Being-success-lonely-joyless-I-wish-I-mediocre-like-friends.html
*** Or maybe you took care of that when you labelled your friends ‘mediocre’?
Linking with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesdays.