19 September 2008

A Tribute to Mediocrity

I remember when I first realized I was less than a genius. It was 10th grade and I was being tested to see if I was "gifted".

I was so sure I was. All my life my mother had been telling me I was stupendous at this and marvelous at that and "You can do anything you want - you're so talented!" My mother was a wishful thinker.

To be sure, there was a smattering of evidence to back her up. School work came very easily for me all the way up through Jr. High. I did well in chorus and drama. I had an abundance of friends. Then high school hit and with it my first eye-opening tastes of reality.

I failed my IQ test.

Well, that's how it felt! Actually, I came up a few points short of "gifted" - my first clue that I was more normal than otherwise. After a 6 donut self-pitying spree, I picked up my broken self-esteem, brushed off my pride and signed up for every *AP class I could get my hands on. However, more blows were in store.

I ran for class vice-president. I had no platform, no ideas, and no political savvy. I didn't write out a speech; I just trusted that the words would come to my brilliant mind when the time was right.

They didn't.

I mumbled something about trusting God (even though, in retrospect, I can see I was trusting in my own cleverness) and they made me the chaplain. Now I was in student government with a whole group of strongly gifted teens - and I didn't fit in. At all. I didn't get their jokes, I didn't have their esteem, and I didn't mix with them socially.

I took advanced English and science classes and did fine in those (although I didn't understand the labs in chemistry. At all. So I copied all my lab answers from a smart guy 3 seats over. It was the only class EVER where I didn't do all my own work.)

I took "math analysis" because, for some stupidly unresearched reason, I thought I need fancy math classes to get into nursing school**. I was miffed later to find that I never needed to go beyond Algebra. I could bang my way through algebra, but I got Cs in Math analysis!

In case you don't know it, a C is a pretty devastating slam to someone who considers herself "above average".

Now I am an adult, and God has continued to enlighten me on just how ordinary I am. I am a good vocalist, but not a great one. I'm a less than stellar musician with just enough theory and training to be a danger to all around me. I'm an OK housekeeper. I'm a decent actress, but I lack the depth and sensitivity and insight that makes a truly fabulous thespian. I'm a fair cook. I'm the homeschool mom who would miss all the field trips if she didn't have diligent friends to keep her informed. And, truth be told, I don't use the "classical education model" with my children because I'm not sharp enough to understand it!

I bike and exercise, but I'm so far removed from the term "athlete" that it really isn't even funny. I CAN do many, many things - crafts and sewing and artsy endeavors, but I excell at none of them. Yes, I am the proverbial Jack of all trades, Master of none. Even my cake decorating is just well presented mediocrity. The end product is quite nice, but if you ever saw how slow I was...

And then there is my writing. I'm a good writer. I can arrange words clearly and concisely (when necessary). I can occasionally make people smile or think or tear up. My writing has a definite enjoyability factor. This is obvious, otherwise I wouldn't have 30+ folks who regularly come to my blog. (Unless, of course, you people are just gluttons for bad prose.)

But I am not a terrific writer (See, I just started a sentence with "but"). My poetry is painfully awful. My fiction is contrived and lackluster. My prose is...well, readable, but it isn't going to change anyone's life. As a writer I am undisciplined, unfocused, and these stupid blog entries take me waaaaaaaaaaay longer to write than they should!

And please, let's not even discuss my barely passable techy knowledge...(nor my deplorable overuse of elipses...)

So, where am I going with all this? Is this a colossal Pity-Party Post where I whine about my low self-esteem and fish for reassurance and compliments from you? No way! I know you folks like me, or you wouldn't keep coming back. Thank-You!

The Bible makes it clear that pride is a stumbling block, that it is foolish to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. When I get puffed up by how talented or strong or able I think I am, then I don't rely on God. Apart from Him "I can do nothing", but "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" and "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."

[Respectively: John chapter 14, Philippians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 1:(25-)31]

The point? And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly therefore, I will boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

So folks, I am glorying in my inadequacy, in my ineptness, in my weakness. They force me to lean on Him! All the things I have accomplished, the projects I have finished, the writing that has touched hearts, the singing that my "fans" applaud is all because of Him.

Besides that, being lowered to the societal strata of ordinary and average and mediocre takes such a load of stress of off me! I don't have to lie awake at night wondering how I'm going to keep up or dazzle or impress. And guess what? I'm in good company. While the world is peppered here and there with some extraordinary folk, most of us are just ordinary. And that's a good thing.

I've even received recognition for my strivings for mediocrity. That's right. Groovy's Ruminations is now a proud humble member of All Mediocre where you can find hundreds of blatantly mediocre blogs just like mine. (Frankly, I've visited a few and found some that even surpass me in unispiredness.)

Remember, we ordinary folk are the majority! So stop by the website and be underwhelmed sometime soon, K?

*AP = Advanced Placement

**I never ended up going to college. I got married and had babies instead. However, I was well prepared to help my husband through nursing school!


Groovy will be back on the 26th with a fair to middlin' post for BooMama's Before and After Party.



Susan said...

Great post and reminder.

We are each one what God made us to be and there is only one SPECIAL and that is JESUS. He is the head, but we are those necessary body parts and every minute one is needed. Thank God.

Dawn said...

I went over to have a look - wow, it's amazing enough to see how many blogs are there, and how many people consider themselves mediocre. Interesting!

I love going to high school reunions, because those who thought they were so awesome in high school are just pretty much - mediocre! Or less!

Glad to see you back. I don't have any projects to share with BooMama's party.

Damselfly said...

But this post is excellent! ;)

The older I get, the more I realize A) I don't know as much as I thought I did and B) I am not as good at things as I thought I was.

So maybe I will join you at AllMediocre!

Christie said...

Wow! You could have been writing MY life story, right down to the overuse of elipses and the bicycling (I took it a step further and displayed for the pitying onlookers my mediocrity in triathlons...) Are you a long-lost twin? Nice to know that God uses us regular folks, huh?

Tammy said...

Groovy... I oculd SO relate to the heart of this. I remember being put in with the first graders during reading time when I was in Kindergarten...so even back then, I thought I must be destined for great things.
But I dropped out of college, floundered from job to job until getting married.
I sometimes think I can write well on occasion...started a few long stories but never finished them yet.

And then I read a post like yours with great writing and I'm humbled even more! ;)

But truly, you make a wonderful point...all of our talents- big, small, mediocre- there are all from God. And when we fall short of wonderful, it's all the more reason to rely on HIM!


anno said...

There is glory in the range of all our (mediocre) talents! Yours shines!

But, don't worry about beginning a sentence with "but." Read any British magazine, such as the esteemed The Economist, and you'll notice many such sentences. Apparently it's accepted style. Maybe you're a royalist at heart?

Superwoman said...

Sushiboy thinks I'm super but in truth I'm hanging on by my fingernails and the grace of God! Great post. It's fun to hear about all us mediocre peoples lives.

lemonologie said...

I loved your post! As another "ordinary" person, it helps me to remember that we may be ordinary but God sees as as extraordinary!

Thanks for your visit to lemonologie!

Anonymous said...

There is a lot to be learned from the ordinary, or if you like, the mediocre. In a way, it is the universal experience. Nothing wrong with it at all!