I feel like in my life, there’s a wheel with the words “mediocre” and “perfection” written on it. I spin the wheel to see what to strive for with each task, and sometimes it lands on one, thus deciding my work ethic for a particular duty. But for longer tasks, and goals, and strategies, the wheel seems to be forever spinning and the words are blurry and meld into one another, so I just attempt at this foggy mix of both. I am simultaneously okay with doing just alright, and needing to be perfect.
I’ve been having this feeling a lot recently.
A large part of it was starting my first year of university. In high school I cared just enough to get me on the honor role most of the time, and even then it was mainly a result of parental pressure. University, though, was my choice. It was entirely my thing. Every A, every well worded paragraph, extra credit lecture, earned position; it was all mine. And I wanted to feel proud in what I was doing as well as make my family proud. There was a lot of skepticism in going to college, especially for film. I ended up changing to econ, but I still felt I needed to justify not only my choice, but justify my abilities to myself. It had to be worth it. And there’s something so satisfying in getting all As and achieving so much in just one year. There’s something so indulgent in doing well, in succeeding above others, in impressing people with your gpa. I needed this perfection.
But there are also times when I just don’t care. At all. And I know it’s normal, it’s just a human thing. However, recently I’ve been kind of obsessing over my own mortality and the realities behind it. I think about how large the universe is, and how our actions are ultimately inconsequential. And this outlook does help many of my societal anxieties.
But it also can completely deflate my drive to keep going.
The real trouble is when my need for perfection and my nihilistic outlook on the world collide into this cognitive dissonance of work ethic.
I’ve recently got this summer job at a coffee place and I’ve been doing alright. But I’m an extremely clumsy person. And it’s not in that cute, “oh I almost tripped” way. I regularly run into walls, open doors onto myself, and now, spill coffee. And though I’m being told by coworkers than I’m doing a good job, its hard for me to take the praise because I’m making mistakes, and to me that’s not a good job. I understand that it’s impossible not to make mistakes, but something in me just doesn’t feel that achievement, or success. I’m just not doing as well as I’d like to be doing. And also, at the same time, I’m doing well enough for my own standards. It’s hard to explain.
This feeling also drifts off into other aspects of my life. Creatively, I loose motivation because what I do just isn’t good enough. I find myself making nothing at all rather than make something less than my vision for it, or less than what will be deemed “good” in whoever’s definition.
But then I remember that nothing is perfect, and just creating or doing something is what counts.
I’m constantly in this weird, gray, blurry area between mediocre and perfect.
I’m sure it’s a relatable feeling.
And I think it’s good to always strive to do better.
However, there should be balance in what we strive for. Sometimes trying to be better translates to trying to be the best. And that isn’t always necessary, but we often make the connection. Obsession and self-denigration can result from constantly thinking this way. And though I try and catch myself, and subdue my desire for perfection with some quick, nihilistic thoughts, I do need to find that balance. I need to stop rallying back and forth between mediocrity and perfection, and find a pattern of thought that smoothly guides me through life, rather than just spinning the wheel and hoping for the best.