An Argument for Mediocrity: Don’t “Do Your Best”, Just “Do”

I haven’t written a blog post in a very long time. 

Well, I have written a few, but none I deemed “good enough” to post. 

Why haven’t I been writing as much? For one, I’ve been busy with life. For two, I’ve been a bit lacking in thoughts lately—not laziness, but some form of indifference—on what to write about. For three, I have very few followers and readers and I convinced myself that a barely read blog is not a blog worth writing. 

For four, I’ve been trying to write the “perfect” post. 

The “Perfect” Blog Post

“Here I am back from my half year hiatus! Smarter and better than ever! This is what quarantine taught me and here’s a blog post talking about everything I’ve been understanding and discovering this last year.”

It’s taken me several months to stop caring who reads this, find the creative desire to write again, and stop thinking that some kind of “perfect” blog post even exists. 

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about change. I’ve written 3 different drafts about it. I’ve been trying to write a post about it forever. I guess this is draft 4.

The Ebb and Flow of Change

What I find so fascinating about change is how quickly we adapt to changes. We adjusted to masks, quarantine, the “New Normal”…we take our adaptability for granted so often. 

And on the flip side, we resist change. We see ourselves as falling short when we don’t change fast enough, or bitter and frustrated when external change is thrust upon us. Those are two separate phenomena of change that I could talk about (maybe I will, someday) but what I find most interesting about change is how quickly we adjust to it. We resist change, but once it happens we can barely remember life before it. We accommodate and shift to deal with it and then it is the status quo. Things we do now without a thought, at one point, seemed impossible. Ridiculous, insane, outlandish. But then we persist, we negotiate, and suddenly we are transformed. 

Positive Change Versus Negative Change

Whether it’s for better or worse depends on the change. I’m always struck by how people can overcome difficult change—new jobs, new homes, loss of self—and how at the same time we are insanely good at staying stuck in other ways. Some of us stick with that shitty job or terrible partner or dysfunctional pattern, or even just going to the same shitty restaurant because that’s what we’re used to. We don’t see how anything could be different until we decide it must be. 

And that deciding doesn’t happen fast, most of the time. Society shows us the beginning and the end mostly. The body transformation, the hero’s arch, the fairytale. No one gives much credit to the minute changes, or how those small tiny changes turn into something incredible one day. 

I lived with my bulimia and anorexia for a long time. From 14 to 20, I saw the world in this focus, this frame. This is who I was and who I am and who I will be.

Change Happens in the Forgetting What It Used to Be Like

I remember wondering if there would ever be a day when I couldn’t remember the last time I threw up—how special that would be. I thought I would celebrate it, have an anniversary, throw myself a party or get a manicure. 

But honestly? I can’t remember what day was the last. I can’t remember the date of the day when I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I made myself sick. 

And isn’t that amazing? This identity, this person you think you’ll be forever and ever, just sort of fades away. Or leaves dramatically. Or leaves and comes back knocking on your door when you least expect it. 

I never thought I would quit smoking, either. I thought it was who I am, who I’ll always be and who I will always be. Then I quit cigarettes and started vaping, figuring that’s who I was. It wasn’t who I wanted to be, but it felt like who I was and I didn’t want to lose her. 

And then one day, sometime this year, that wasn’t who I wanted or needed to be anymore, either. The beautiful and ugly thing about our flexibility and adaptability is that it allows us to make incredible strides, but it also allows us to acclimate to bad shit. We adjust to poor choices and unhealthy patterns. We accept the chaos as our life. And we are told that everything will suddenly change one day, like at some magic date or time we will become better, more ourselves. 

Make Room for the Confusion

And we do, but not how we are taught we will. It’s not always linear or pretty or even fun. Sometimes, it’s not even memorable. This huge thing we thought we would never release just falls away, and we don’t even remember exactly when we let go. 

I titled this post “An Argument for Mediocrity” because I want to remind myself that I’ll always be shitty at things. We will all always be mediocre at things until one day (maybe) we are slightly less so.

Change will always be hard; growing will always be hard. Making good productive and healthy choices, as beneficial as they may be, will still be hard. 

When I was deep in my eating disorder, I was never good enough. I wasn’t dying, and therefore couldn’t be sick enough. The illogic of anorexia is that death is the final measure of success. It took me a long time to accept that I would never be the “best” anorexic. It took me an even longer time to decide I wanted to be the worst at it.  Ever since I stopped focusing on thinness exclusively, it’s gotten harder. 

Now, some days, I want to be the thinnest, smartest, prettiest, best at surfing a.k.a. perfect.

And when that urge comes, the urge to change my life right away or look at the world through that skewed lens, I remind myself I will always be “The Worst” at something. 

Wayne Dyer writes in “Your Erroneous Zones” that we should throw “Do Your Best” out the window. 

And I have to say, I agree. Why do we always need to do our best? Let’s just do something. For all the perfectionists out there who think that simply doing, for the pure sake of it, sounds insane… I’m right there with you.

But we have to remember that if we are always waiting to do something until we are perfect we will never do a goddamn thing.

Do What You Want, How You Want

Don’t make changes because you think you’re supposed to, make them because you want to. Look at where you’ve come from and where you want to go and if you’re somewhere even slightly closer than you were yesterday, whether it’s working on a backside cutback or buying a plant or finishing a project or going outside or being nicer to yourself… if you are headed there, whatever that looks like, something is changing for the better. 

Be the worst. Embrace your failures and shortcomings. Stop doing your best. Doing something half-assed and for the sake of fun. Be as nice to yourself as I want to be to you, and I’ll try to do the same. 

You’ll always be the worst at something and that’s okay. The only reason it matters to you so much is because you think it means you’re not good enough. It doesn’t. It just means you have something new to try, a change to create, and a life to keep living on your own terms instead of anyone else’s. 

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