Coming to terms with your own mediocrity

Push for attention

A thread with the same title as this post was started on ILX the other day. The first post was a bit Fight Club-esque; I am not a beautiful unique snowflake, we’ve been raised to think we can all be rockstars or moviestars, what if I never write that zeitgeist-defining novel, etc etc etc. It was more than a little navel-gazing.

I used to be afflicted with such thoughts from time to time, with the desire to be important and known. In some ways I probably still am but not to the extent that it causes me any degree of existential angst anymore. What are the passages in Nausea? “I am moved, my body is a precision tool at rest… I have plunged through forests… Loved women, fought with men… It has all lead me here, to this bubble of light filled with music.”. And the other, about protagonists being blind to stories while in them, how stories only become stories in hindsight, and before that they are just the relentless succession of circumstance. These used to be my favourite passages of any book. When I was 20.

I wrote the next paragraph at 6am on Christmas Day, using my iPhone, in bed, as a reply to that ILX thread.

“Enjoy the things you do. Do the things you enjoy. Make conscious time every day in which to do this. Try and make it so you enjoy your job and are connected to your outputs (the fruits of your labour). I cook, I listen to music, I cycle, I talk, I write from time to time, I take photographs. I’m not exceptional at any of these but I’m good enough to please myself and feel proud every so often. Take compliments; consider whether you compliment others meaninglessly or as a lie and if you don’t, I doubt you do, apply that thought to everyone else’s compliments. But mostly, love people. Whether it’s a deep romantic lifelong passion and companionship or just taking pleasure everyday in the things people around you do, love people. Being a rock star or a lauded writer won’t make you happy. We’re not here to do that. We’re not here to do anything other than exist, so we owe it to ourselves to make that existence happy (and I don’t necessarily mean delirious at every turn). Get over yourself. Enjoy doing things. Love people. Laugh. Breathe clean air and appreciate it. Whether I’m mediocre or not seldom if ever crosses my mind these days. Why should it? I can eat tiramisu that I made myself, I can stroke my cats, listen to beautiful music, cycle till my legs ache, love my wife, walk through a beautiful snowy landscape, and enjoy the company of my friends and family and colleagues.”

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4 responses to “Coming to terms with your own mediocrity

  1. Beautifully put.

  2. Those Sartre quotes in full:

    “I am moved, I feel my body as a precision tool at rest. I for my part have had some real adventures. I can’t remember a single detail, but I can see the rigorous succession of circumstances. I have crossed seas, I have left cities behind me, and I have plunged the course of rivers towards their source or else plunged into forests, always making for other cities. I have had women, I have fought with men; and I could never turn back, any more than a record could spin in reverse. And all that was leading me where? To this very moment, to this bench, in this bubble of light humming with music…”

    “And we have the impression that the hero lived all the details of that night like annunciations, promises, or even that he lived only those that were promises, blind and deaf to everything that did not herald adventure. We forget that the future was not yet there; the fellow was walking in a darkness devoid of portents, a night which offered him its monotonous riches pell-mell, and he made no choice. I wanted the moments of my life to follow one another in an orderly fashion like those of a life remembered. You might as well try to catch time by the tail.”

  3. Nice Nick. Well put. Not sure about the ‘pride’ bit, but perhaps that’s just a half-generational thing.

    However, I’m commenting to ask: How is this weltanschauung manifested during your participation in quizzes?

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