Everyone talks about breaking the glass ceiling. It’s by far the most important thing for millennials. In this cycle of mediocrity, we’re all stuck swinging like pendulums between motivation and nonchalance. Mediocrity never bears a positive connotation no matter how you use it. It brings with it a sense of sluggishness which nobody really enjoys. It can be a rather beautiful thing though. See, how you and I might react to mediocrity might be really different, this is not a reinterpretation of mediocrity but an acknowledgement of sorts.
Mediocrity is a state of limbo, it’s neither below average nor is it exemplary. I think schools are where we first meet the word mediocrity, especially when our papers were graded. Mediocre was always better than bad but not good. It’s incredible that some people have never been at this stage. Mediocrity is like gravity, you can jump as high as you want but you are going to land back there. If you haven’t experienced mediocrity then you haven’t really lived have you?
Millenials are afraid of mediocrity more than they are afraid of failing. It’s too confusing to them as to why people settle for something. Even when I talked of my dreams as a child I could see everyone’s disbelief. As a millennial myself I never thought there could be the chance that my dreams aren’t realised and the more I grew up and the more I heard the word, “settle”. It frightened me, and what was worse was, because I was so sure I didn’t keep any backups. It felt like my world would come crashing down if things didn’t go my way. I see it in children today who come asking me for advice. I see the same fear in their eyes. They want to reach for the stars and they haven’t thought about how beautiful it can be to soar through a cloud.
Millenials don’t realise that they are able to afford to have dreams and are in a position to choose and that in itself is a big deal. Mediocrity isn’t ever a choice but sometimes it’s your only option. So yes, I have learnt to “settle”. I have learnt that if I don’t get gold silver or bronze is fine too. In the end, it all comes down to whether or not you can make do with what you have. Millenials want things fast and they want it the way they asked for it just like their Starbucks coffee with their name on it. But, they barely notice the price they pay for it.
It’s not as simple as I am making it out to be. I am not saying don’t chase your ambitions. I am saying that if those ambitions are not realised it’s not the end of the world it never is. If the world had to end it would have ended a long time ago, it will have nothing to do with you. If we start making mediocrity sound taboo and unsuccessful then we’re not going to encourage people to try new things just because they believe that if they try something they have to be the best at it, the average is not okay. There has to be mediocrity as a reference point to tell what’s bad and good.
The middle is severely underrated. It’s not easy being the best and it’s doubly hard to be the worst. So, in all truth of the matter mediocrity is just what it is. Why are we obsessed with making comparisons? We want everything but also want nothing. In the end, we’re never sure about what we want. We have progressed in allowing people to follow their dreams but we never made them understand that every dream comes at a price and every dream isn’t necessarily realised.
We shy of talking about those who just about made it. We are constantly glamorising ambitions and success, and also failures. In the case of failure, we’re using examples of those who failed but later succeeded. What about all those unsung heroes who lived a quiet life, who were peaceful and content. We have a habit of associating success with effort. They are directly proportional, high effort equals high success and low effort equals low success. So, we like to say that those who are not extraordinary but are ‘ordinary’ didn’t try hard enough. We make these assumptions so seamlessly. We might not say it out loud, but we definitely think it. It’s how we’ve been brought up.
Being ‘ordinary’ can be a beautiful thing and we all must know that there’s very little room at the top. I am not trying to be pessimistic but from what I see in ads and the newspapers along with the way our country rewards those with high grades and punishes those with low grades makes me want to say something. Newspapers should stop putting out photos of people who scored extremely well and only reporting of those who didn’t score well in those cases that ended in suicide. I’m sure they realise what kind of an atmosphere they’re creating. That your grade is more important than your life and if you don’t do well, society doesn’t have room for you.
The minute we stop treating exams like a big deal and stop talking about results altogether, mediocrity won’t matter so much. There will be no scale to refer to. There will be no pushing and pulling to get to the top and no degrading those who can’t make it. Why are we trying to reduce identities to numbers? Doing well in an exam doesn’t mean you’ll do well in life and conversely doing not so well has no connection to how you’ll do in life. I know it’s easy for me to say but at some point, I was also a part of this wretched system. My results were my identity for a while too. Even I have been outcasted for not doing well and have been heralded for successes. Now everybody I know is doing really well for themselves but are still struggling with their own demons, our results are not the albatross we wear round our neck. There are things worse than the mediocrity that life will force you to fight. You best be prepared for those.