The Beauty of Mediocrity

Date: Apr 1, 2021

Striving for excellence is a noble goal.

Michael Jordan wasn’t a highly recruited prospect, but tirelessly worked on his craft and is now considered one of the best to ever play the game of basketball. Steven Spielberg couldn’t get into a university to study film, but he was able to create cinematic masterpieces later on. Walt Disney was fired from his first job for his “lack of creativity,” of all things.

You can't talk about basketball and not mention this guy.

When I read stories like theirs, I envy them not because of their success, but because of how passionate they were in their craft.

I often find myself wondering what I am truly passionate about. I don’t have a particular hobby that I believe defines my life.

It makes creating a “unique” user name for games a tad difficult, at the very least.

Unlike Jordan, Spielberg, Disney, or others who successfully achieved “excellence,” I realized early that I am average. Not to discredit the work of those who want to be the best like Ash Ketchum, I believe that being average isn’t all that bad.

Mediocrity has been frowned upon because of its perceived lack of ambition, that it’s almost equated to failure.

I write this with the goal of showing that it isn’t as bad as it is being portrayed to us.

Enjoying a Variety of Things

I love sports and games, but if you’re a really good player, chances are you would beat me in a game 9/10 times. It won’t stop me from trying to play again though.

From sports to mobile and console games, I try to learn as many of them as I can so that I may be able to play competitively.

I am far from being the best in any of them. However, for team games, I’m an able body who knows his role, while I can at least make for a competitive opponent for individual games.

It’s not like I don’t want to win – of course I do. It does frustrate me at times when I’m not playing in the last two minutes of a basketball game because I’m not one of the best five players on my team.

However, it doesn’t kill me if we win or lose. In everything that I play and do, I do it with a smile because these things are fun for me.

If there are five steps to becoming excellent in one thing, I’ll happily settle for the third step if it means I can do it for three more things.

There’s No Pressure Staying in the Middle

Once, I got into it with a friend who took Mobile Legends too seriously that the cussed out everyone he played with, including me and a friend he didn’t even know. He defended his actions by telling me something to the effect of I didn’t understand how much he lost because of one game.

Not exactly "expert" stats for a 5+year player.

Of course, I thought he was referring to some financial implication, but apparently, it’s literally just stars for the game.

I believe that life’s too short to be stressed about living up to expectations. Being the best gives you a target on your back – all eyes are on you, whether they’re looking for you to make a mistake to criticize you or take you off your pedestal.

On one hand, I think it could be fun to keep competing against the people trying to take your title, like Souma in Shokugeki No Souma/Food Wars. However, as someone who doesn’t want to be defined by a single activity, I think the middle ground is a safe spot to keep the fun in anything that I do.

There’s a saying that goes “the journey is always better than the destination.”

I believe that taking your time in the middle allows you to stay on that “journey,” which lets you enjoy it longer.

Connecting with More People

My diverse range of interests has allowed me to find a common ground with a lot of people.

It helped me a lot when I was in sales, and it helped me make friends when I moved to Singapore.

Friends old and new, who I met through basketball, Mobile Legends, or alcohol.

I take pride in getting people to open up and talk especially in a group setting, and I do love meeting interesting people because of this.

Not being the best in one thing means there are so many things to learn from other people. For the things that I may have experience with or consume a lot of information about, people would sometimes ask for my help.

While people respect my opinions about basketball, I still get to learn new perspectives from super fans. For people asking about advice on writing, I provide suggestions than rules. Despite being a self-taught internet cook, some friends do ask how I made a dish.

While I’m not an expert in one thing, I’m happy that the diversity of my interests could help add value to more people within my circles.

Moving at Your Pace

I’m turning 35 this year, and at some point of my NBA fandom, I would sometimes compare myself with public figures around the same age.

When LeBron James was making millions of dollars in ads and his basketball career at 21, I thought “what the hell am I doing with my life?”

Even without the GOAT debate, this man, at 37, has won in life.

Over the years, I would get a sense of what mattered to some people, as they would often care about how old I am after asking about my profession.

Setting age-based goals is something I read about in motivational or self-help books, and I think it does help people at times.

However, I think stars have to align the right way in order for one to actually accomplish feats like that. When they do, it’s awesome, but when they don’t, should it be considered as a failure?

All your hard work may come to naught if opportunity, health, or even luck is not present.

Excellence based on age brings about stress or unnecessary pressure that may hinder you from achieving the goals you’re on pace to reach.

This is not to deter anyone from aiming for excellence or discredit what those “best-selling” authors or anyone who tells you that you should aim to be the best. We all should.

However, I believe mediocrity does not mean that you have failed.

In this finite life that we have, the one thing that no one can take from us even after death is our experiences.

I believe that expanding the things you enjoy rather than perfecting one thing will make for a well-lived life.

Exceptional people will have their accolades and may be written in history books to leave a legacy long after their deaths, but the reality is we can’t all be exceptional.

This is not to say that settling in mediocrity is the right way to live. Rather, that chasing greatness is never futile, as not reaching the pinnacle shouldn’t be considered as a failure.

In anything that you chase, don’t forget to look around to enjoy the ride.