Being too okay with mediocrity

I don’t know if it’s a function of aging, everything it took to become post-dysphoria, some quirk in my personality, all of the above, none of it, or whatever. But I’m a little took okay with getting by. It’s not that I don’t strive for more, or don’t put the effort in for it. I’d say more often than not I do and I mostly manage. None the less, when things don’t work out, or not as well as I’d hope, more often than not, it doesn’t strike me as a big deal.

I wasn’t like this before stage 1. But somewhere along the line of surviving the time and everything else that happened in between stage 1 and 2, my bar of “okay” lowered profoundly. I’m unsure with hindsight if it hadn’t already begun dropping prior to stage 1 with everything it took to start lower surgeries. It feels like it did, but the where, when and how seems unimportant so much as facing the outcome.

Recently, a friend and I set out to make a dish neither of us have experience making. We didn’t follow a single recipe with care and attention, there was a lot of “close enough.” Under different circumstances, I’d have put greater effort in, but he seemed to have done at least part of the process before, I was happy to differ to his greater knowledge base and went from there. The end result was disappointing, for sure, but perfectly eatable. I was thinking out lout of what I’d do differently the next time to improve on our mediocre success when he tore into the whole thing. This friend is a perfectionist and pragamatic in different ways than I. His conclusion was that it was worth paying to have someone else make the dish next time, which is a fair assessment. But he was truly cross at our “failure” whereas I thought “eh, nbd. I can try again (without him obviously) or not, whatever.” The sharp contrast between our reactions made me aware that this has been happening a fair bit in my life.

Last year, when I got screwed out of a program I’d spent years working towards, my friends were more upset than I was. I was far from indifferent, but simultaneously, I went back to the drawing board to contemplate both whether to try again, and if so, where else and how. My friends, both near and far, wanted me to challenge the unjust policy. I remember reasoning with myself that I’m understandably burnt out of challenging policies in such circumstances. It’s what I had to do, over and over again for years and years, to achieve lower surgeries. The program was nice but my quality of life didn’t depend on it as it did on lower surgeries. I found it easy to turn around and consider other avenues rather than forge on that particular path.

The next path I tried got similarly screwed up. This time, I got more notice, and I’m pursuing a work around. But I’m already quite settled that if said work around doesn’t pan out, I’ll probably abandon this particular goal. That’s unsettling. It’s unlike me. But it’s hard not to fall back on the career I already had, knowing I can pick it up fairly easily (I still get requests, I still do some stuff on the side around it, I wouldn’t be starting from scratch like the 1st time or this next career.) Too often I feel I “rest on my laurels.” It’s not that I’m content to retire nor do I think I can’t top what I’ve already done. But simultaneously, I’m not a youth out to prove himself, I don’t have a race against mounting dysphoria chasing and pushing me further, I’m okay as I am.

And it’s returning to this realisation over and over again that’s unsettling. I try new stuff, I challenge myself, but when it doesn’t work out, I shrug, take it on the chin, and move on. Too easily. Is it a sign I’m not as “done” with post-op depression as I otherwise think I am? Is it a fairly common development in people at this stage in their life?

I’ve been pursuing a few things in hopes of upping my productivity and drive. I’ve had some success but not enough by the standards I used to hold for myself. Not enough to finish the next challenge I’m working my ways towards, and I know it. I want to achieve the goal but I don’t feel the “need” to achieve it even though it’s been a life long dream.

I keep starting posts and deleting them because I don’t know if what I’m feeling is related to transition or not. I hope there are others out there who can relate so here’s my admission. I’m not doing as much as I could; I’m ultimately disappointing myself and I’m uncharacteristically okay about it. Have been for a growing number of years. I’d like it to stop, or failing that, accept what that means in terms of achievable goals from here on.

5 thoughts on “Being too okay with mediocrity

  1. I have a t-shirt from – unleash the power of mediocrity. In my teens and twenties I couldn’t reconcile myself to leading a normal life, I was overwhelmed by the mediocrity of everything. Society drives us on to be constantly striving for the next best thing, comparing ourselves to others – to be, more often than not, found lacking in some way thereby generating a malaise which can be marketed to or medicated depending on the business your in. As I moved through my thirties and now in my forties, mediocrity is my friend. Average is comfortable and unremarkable – a source of contentment. I am amused by friends who are obsessed with having the best of everything – best bicycle, most qualified doctor, doing the most challenging yoga class, owning the smoothest writing pen – usually stupid meaningless shit. I am proud to say that my life is most decidedly ordinary.

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  3. I know I’m much younger and in a different place to you, but to me this is just the way I ended up once I reconciled myself with gender, that I wasn’t happy when I was younger, disability stuff etc. Growing up I thought I needed to pursue all the things which are admired by the default sort of society, that imaginary version of it which excludes the perspectives of anyone outside the norm so that all of its goals can neatly fit into capitalism and financial success – I had a piano scholarship and I wanted to study at the best unis for music and maths, but I didn’t want a joint degree, and I pictured an unrealistic version of myself as this concert pianist who was also a mathematician in academia. Now I’m in a phd which means people are impressed, but it’s in a department I have no respect for and was something I chose to avoid having to work(as I’d literally just come out and had no support with disabilities, the idea of being accommodated during that time would have been a fantasy). Once I finish, if I finish(I don’t care if I fail it, so long as I can afford it which makes little difference seeing as I’m only funded for 9 more months), I’m just going to be trying to find a job which doesn’t feel unbearable, which is hard seeing as auditory processing issues mean that being in a room with too many people for two hours makes me overloaded let alone a day – and that’s the only reason I’m looking for jobs which elitists would think are better. I’m very mediocre in my ambitions despite doing a phd, because many of the things which society overvalues don’t actually require you to not be mediocre so much as to be lucky and privileged.


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