Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about goals. About what it means to set goals and excel at something and how much of our life is spent working towards those goals. I’ve also been thinking about what it means to be “average” and why we tend to label this word as negative. Things in my life have started to take up more space than they used to, both physically and mentally, and I find myself challenging my belief system. I have always been active in my adult years and loved running timed races. This past summer I hired a running coach because I wanted to set a goal, work towards it, and set a Personal Record (PR) in a half marathon. My goal was to get under 1 hour and 40 minutes. I followed the training plan he gave me, running on days I didn’t want to and at paces I struggled to hit. I started following other runners on Instagram and reading blogs to get inspiration and workout ideas for my longer runs. I started to notice my mindset shifted. I caught myself looking at these runners on social media and blogs and think “If I put in enough work and do what’s required, I can be this great, I can be elite.” I started to believe if I was going to do this “running thing” then I needed to push the limit, put everything into it, and strive to be a part of this elite running community. “What’s the point if I’m not the best?” I ended up running my race in 1:39.14. I was elated. I felt accomplished. Then I realized I needed to take a step back. Take some pressure off myself and remember who I am. I am a person who strives to live a peaceful, fulfilling, happy life. To feel at peace with the moment and accept life as it comes. I was starting to fill my head with thoughts opposite of this. In people affected with an eating disorder, perfectionism and obsession are two rally cries heard far too often. We live in a world and society that tells us we are nothing if we are average; “average people get lost in the crowd”, “average people don’t succeed in their career” “average people don’t achieve”. What’s the point of doing something if I’m not the best? The reality is, most people are average, because otherwise we wouldn’t have this concept of being extraordinary. And that’s OK. All the other stuff, just feeds the ego. I’m here to tell you that it is OK to be average, hell it’s even OK to be mediocre. Not only is it OK, but it can be beautiful. It can be peaceful. It can be freeing.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to set goals, to work hard at something and improve, and maybe even set a PR in a race. But it’s not all there is, and like anything, when something becomes all-consuming and negatively impact your life, it might be time to step back and re-evaluate what you are doing.
Some of the most beautiful things in life are average; laughing with our child, smiling at a stranger, sharing a quote with a friend, petting your dog. Maybe it’s not about reaching your highest potential in everything you do every day. Maybe the key is to accept life for what it is, right now, in this moment, all while appreciating the little “average” things. Learning to be comfortable with the space you are in and not worry about the future takes practice, but it is worth the effort. Because I am good enough in this moment. We are all good enough in this moment. And if that includes being mediocre or average, that’s OK.
- Mary Hendrickson, Admissions Coordinator