June 16, 2017

Why Perfectionists should Pursue Mediocrity.

Being “okay” at something has never been my jam.

Growing up, life came naturally to me. I did well in school, had lots of friends, and I was a natural leader. I spent most of my childhood as a competitive dancer and figure skater, and while my technical skills left something to be desired, my love for performing shined.

I was accustomed to praise, being told what a great job I was doing, or hearing how special I was. Even when I lost my way and went down the path of excessive drug and alcohol abuse, I heard what a great bartender I was, or was commended for my ability to down a 12-case of beer like a champ.

But then adulthood hit. I stepped out of my comfort zone and did scary things, like starting my own business and entering the world of triathlons. I started to suck at a lot of stuff.

I had to overcome my fear of water and learn how to swim (not an easy task at 25). I had to deal with coaches telling me my technique was “awful” while other swimmers aggressively passed me. I wore the title of “Slowest in the Pool” for an entire season.

I had to wear many hats in my business—CEO, marketer, saleswoman, and graphic designer to name a few—and I learned that most of those areas didn’t fall under my strengths.

My Type-A personality hated this, and to be honest, it still does. I’m torn between the mindset of “done is better than perfect” and “if it’s not perfect it’s not good enough.” My worth has always been attached to my accomplishments, so when I hit a particular road block I can’t help but ask: “What does that say about me?”

Obviously, this is not a healthy predicament to be in. The fact that it’s okay to be good at some things and to be not-so-good at others is something I’ve been actively trying to accept for the past year.

In my pursuit of mediocrity, here’s what I’ve learned.

1. A task does not need to be completed (especially completed perfectly) in order to be an accomplishment. Sometimes simply taking a step toward a task is an accomplishment in itself.

2. Nobody cares as much as we do. That woman whose leg I accidentally hit at the pool? While I’m at home later, ruminating about it for hours, she’s surely long since forgotten. That line I stumbled on in my speech? No one judged me for it like I judge myself. And let’s be real—most people aren’t even paying enough attention to notice.

3. When we remove our expectations, we remove the pressure. Life is so much less stressful when we’re not held to unrealistic expectations. Amazing things happen when we truly accept that, at any given time, we’re doing the best we can with the resources we’ve got.

Letting go of expectations and the desire for perfection and praise isn’t easy. Especially for those of us who thrived off those things our whole lives.

But making an effort to step out of our comfort zones and be okay with mediocrity is an accomplishment worthy of celebration. Don’t you think?

Author: Ariana Fotinakis
Image: Pixabay
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Supervising Editor 1: Taia Butler

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Ariana Fotinakis