I told one of my friends from grad school that I am ready for mediocre. Growing up I always felt like I wanted to do something important, something that made a difference. It’s probably why I chose nursing, although it wasn’t my first choice of careers. But I was good at science and wanted to make a difference. I also had a problem with wanting to be a people pleaser which meant I never did work without thinking most about how it would be received. That is, graded by teachers, received by patients, viewed by coworkers. Everyone else’s judgement of my work was always more important than my own. Because of that, I regularly felt crushed by feed back. I constantly thought I wasn’t good enough. A lot of ideas I had early in my adult life I would never attempt or quit because of fear of failure or criticism.
But as I got older, I started trying more doing more and trying to work past my work not being received well. I started believing I was good at some things and I worked very hard at them. But I still struggled with anxiety about failing or doing things poorly. But mostly I kept looking for ways to work hard to make a difference.
The pandemic has changed the way I think about work. Lately I’ve been thinking, I am tired of work. What’s the point of work? What’s the point of 40 hours? Who is my work for? And can my work be for me?
I think this is really an exploration of the idea that I, personally, can let go of working for others in a way that leaves very little for me. I have known this for a while. But practicing it regularly has been a challenge, because I constantly find myself jumping back into old ways of thinking. I think I should be working harder, proving my worth as an employee, looking for advancement, helping the organization be better, etc. But at the same time I feel compelled to do that, I think to myself why? Why should I? Why should I be a model employee? Why can’t I be mediocre and let things go instead.
So the other day, I told my friend I want to be mediocre. I want work to shrink in it’s importance and to let all of the other things grow. More books, more art, more hiking, more time with people I love. I am ok with not being significant and just being average.