Being Less Than Perfect

Dealing with Percieved Mediocrity

Posted by Roy Du on August 21st, 2020

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." - Salvador Dali

Many people have been told numerous times throughout their lives to strive for excellence, and that anything less than perfect is unacceptable. For some people, this means that if they weren’t constantly at the top of their class, or got anything other than an A+ on a test, they feel like they’ve failed at life, and the drive of perfection becomes one of unachievability.

When entering college or university, the standard of excellence becomes much higher than what it was in secondary school. Everyone sitting in the lecture hall was at the top of their class before university, they all got into the same university that you did, after all! But when everyone is excellent, that old standard of excellence becomes just average.

Going into your post-secondary studies you will do worse than you did in highschool. You will be surrounded by the brightest minds of the generation, and will inevitably find that no matter what you’re doing, there is always someone doing better than you. You’ll sometimes feel mediocre - overshadowed by those that seem to have done so much more.

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” - Confucius

However, being average isn’t bad. When you’re the best something, there is no longer room to be better, no room for growth, and your motivation will die. While the temporary ego boost of being “the best” may feel good for a while, being stuck in this position of stagnation, especially early on in life or a career, will lead to others quickly overtaking you. This applies to any aspect of life, whether that be a school, a job, or even hobbies. Surrounding yourself with people who may be better than you in some aspects, gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the different skills, create things that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise, and grow in areas where you are behind.

Therefore, not only is it perfectly fine to be average amongst your peers, It is the best place to be! When you become the best at doing something, it’s a sign that you need to be doing more. Mediocrity is relative by nature, and being even the worst of the best is still better than being the best of the worst.

“Only the mediocre are always at their best” - Jean Giraudoux

Nobody is perfect. If you are challenging yourself and pushing your limits, then you are much more likely to make a mistake or two simply because of the nature of what you are doing. Going into post-secondary is a challenge, and you’ll make mistakes along the way. Don’t blame yourself for every mistake you make - they are indicators that you are on the right track. True mediocrity is being content with being the best while not challenging yourself to be better.

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