Musings on Mediocrity and Childhood Pride

You grew up thinking you were special. It’s not such a surprise since so many people treated you like you had it in you to make it big…to make something of yourself. Teachers favoured you, giving you the usual words of encouragement when you ended up not making it to first position during a certain term examination. They would single you out for school events to do this and to do that.

Others weren’t as admirative as the teachers. Some would look at you with envy…their spiteful, venomous eyes shooting out laser beams of hatred; the sight of their bitter, scouring lips making you shudder and shut yourself deep inside your own soul.

Fifteen years later, and the image still vividly plays in your memory when you close your eyes. That girl with the round face and tightly-pulled-back hair...whispering into the ears of all the girls in your class...turning friends into foes and best friends into strangers. You have forgiven her over the years but her voice and her scour still haunt you every now and then, doesn’t it? When you saw her the other day, dressing shabbily with her two kids in tow, it made you feel a tiny bit better, didn’t it? It was an ugly sort of triumph but a triumph nonetheless.

Naturally, you’re going to think there’s something about you…something special. Why else would someone like her have hated you so much while your teachers commended you on something you wrote in your essay or on your latest performance in a test?

Face to face with normalcy

Yet as you grow older, you come to realize that there are so many others just as good as you...maybe even more. You learn to step back, hide in the corner, and take a backseat because you’ve convinced yourself that you’re just not that good. You stop drawing anything at all even though you’re fairly good. You stop aiming for the top because you know you’re not the best. When it first occurred to you that maybe you’re just not as good as you thought you were, you tried to deny the fact. Maybe you even succeeded to remain in denial for a good ten years.

But suddenly, after your fifth or so rejection letter, a couple of failed interviews, and a mediocre college degree from a mediocre university, it finally hits you hard in the extraordinarily ordinary you extraordinarily ordinary you have always been. The soul-crushing realization of heartbreakingly average existence weakens your knees, tightens your stomach, and quickens your heartbeat.

So you live your life a saddened, bitter, and incredibly self-conscious adult, scared to do anything out of the ordinary for fear of failure...for fear of yet another realization tearing a few more pieces of your soul. You find comfort in aiming for lesser things and take pride in small achievements.

Quoting Sylvia

In the words of Sylvia Plath, “What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.” You find yourself having sufficient education but not enough to get you into a job that requires special degrees and impressive results. You were once brilliantly promising but the spark has faded over the years and you’re just slowly fading away…the life in you gradually being overshadowed by the dankness and darkness of reality.

You sometimes find yourself wondering if being average is all that bad and for a bleak moment you manage to convince yourself that it really is okay… But then you always find your way back. You always end up thirsty for more, craving for something that’s out of your reach.

Source: Smashing Magazine

Sometimes you blame the education system and the quality of education in your country…how educational institutions and job examinations only tested memory instead of prioritizing on actual intelligence. Sometimes you blame your lower-middle-class upbringing and your inability to access better educational facilities. Sometimes you resent yourself for not having tried harder.

But really, the truth remains at the deepest darkest corner of your mind and soul… You’re just immensely, heartbreakingly, soul-crushingly ordinary


  1. Jackie! I could have written the same exact thing. Down to the Plath quote.

  2. Superbly written. "You find comfort in aiming for lesser things and take pride in small achievements.........." And heartbreaking.

    1. Thank you. I'm so glad it made you feel something. :)


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