The Road to Mediocrity is Paved with Good Intentions


I once ogled a piece of home decor that displayed the message S I M P L I F Y.  I whispered to my dear friend “I want one.”

He replied with a smirk, “what would you do with it?”

I’ve read this blog post and many posts like it. They resonate with me — this desire to live in the “space between” with less stress and less drive.

I like to imagine this space as a place we breathe fresh air with our arms stretched wide in large open fields of wildflowers. I dream it’s a place where calm lives. I respect this idea of embracing mediocrity in order to live a simpler life. I appreciate the writers for putting the comforting words to the page; however, I cannot, for the life of me, implement it.

And I am not sure I want to.

I have found that for me the space between is actually an uncomfortable waiting place. It‘s where the wildflowers are planted but not where they thrive. Can you imagine if flowers remained seeds?  Deeply rooted with no magnificent display? 

Life just isn’t that simple, and I am one of those strange people who think life is supposed to be hard. While simply living in that space between is appealing, I find that I thrive more in some degree of chaos — in the moments I am being stretched thin and far beyond my comfort zone.  My spirit clashes with words like mediocrity, complacency, and “what if” scenarios left unexplored. At minimum I need to test the limits toward attempted success.

When we relocated to San Antonio, I believed we were moving to a land flowing with milk and honey. We were faithful! We’d answered the call!  We’d also heard rumor of red carpet treatment for military families (which we have yet to see). San Antonio has looked a lot more like the first year in a desert (quite literally), but I am starting to hazily see through the granite glass some of the purpose behind our trials. 

As with any move, we’ve gained new neighbors. This time they are five adorable baby swallows and their exhausted parents. The parents work earnestly to feed their growing infants who can scarcely fit into the perfected nest. As they squabble and fight for space, it reminds me of the past, of this fight that’s always existed in me.  

When my husband enlisted, I feared change. Many friends with good intentions said, “If anyone can do this, Amy can.” I am not even 100 percent certain what that means, but I’ve spent years trying to live up to and exceed this expectation. 

Yet, during my most recent years, I feel the fight in me diminishing. The young girl who used to curl her fists and get in the ring is slowly beginning to wave the white flag. 

I think it’s why posts about mediocrity are beginning to resonate. However, no matter how high I begin to raise the flag, I quickly pull it down and hide it behind my back, embarrassed I ever thought to raise it in the first place. No matter how tempting mediocrity sounds, a desire to strive for excellence rises above it.  

I think it’s part of why we military moms either enlisted in the military or chose our  spouses who were in the military or had it on their heart to join. Any person willing to join the military, (the whopping less than 1% of the US), knows what sacrifice looks like, and with sacrifice comes excellence. Mediocrity is not an option.   

  • What if embracing mediocrity means complacency wins and excellence gives way? 
  • What if settling into mediocrity allows fear to win? 
  • What if accepting mediocrity is the ultimate surrender but not in a good way? 

I struggle to find the balance but as I watch these birds free-falling from their nest, I have to believe my own two feet will claim stability beneath me as I fall forward from time to time with significant attempts toward excellence. In each fall there is a lesson to be learned cementing the stepping stones of life. If I could prevent each step from becoming too concrete, allow the clay to be molded and shaped (even when periodically stepped on), perhaps excellence would win rather than the attractive pull of mediocrity and its discomforts of comparison.   

For the record, the perfect nest doesn’t exist, but I am rather certain the mediocre one shouldn’t either. 

The swallows nest was comprised of mud pellets and grass but was surprisingly strong enough to weather the storms while providing a safe home for its growing offspring. God willing, at the proper time, the offspring spread their wings and fly after a few failed attempts toward excellence.  

One simply cannot soar in a spirit of mediocrity.