The Age of Mediocrity

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When we were young, we dreamed of being doctors, teachers, Sea World trainers, and astronauts. More likely than not, we didn’t know that the jobs you and I are in even existed. No 4-year-old is going to say “I want to grow up to be a data scientist!” or “I want to go into Private Equity.” We would only learn years later that roles like Account Executive (Sales) or Business Analyst or Consulting are real.

And maybe that’s why everyone at the age of 20–30 feels so mediocre. We went through 16 years of schooling and ate millions of calories and did X amount of push-ups and Y amount of challenges in order to graduate and fulfill our noble role of being a….business analyst.

And it’s not even that the last time we dreamed was at childhood. Almost everyone in the liberal arts program I was in freshman year of college had aspirations that hoped to change to world only to all go into consulting senior year because we all needed jobs and money to pay for rent.

When I talk to those around me, their biggest worry isn’t that they won’t get promoted fast enough or won’t find the loves of their lives, but rather that they are, well, average. Average to the next person walking next to them on the street. Average to their coworkers. Average to the average standard deviation of success in a city. Average in this world.

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But then I continued talking to those around me and learned something else. While we might be average, that doesn’t discredit us. Because life isn’t about being better or being superior. It’s about returning value. Returning value to those you love, the people around you, your coworkers, your neighbor, your family. Everyone that you are so average against — your job and my job and their job is to all help each other.

Life might demand mediocrity but it craves genuineness. It asks you to be your self and give what you genuinely can produce. You might be average, but to each and every person you are unique. Your experiences are distinctly yours and in a crowd full of average people at a dinner party, your conversation and your spark and personality are things that only you offer.

So while I shuddered in a city of 8 million that I felt seemingly average, I felt special whenever I walked down the street and smiled at people. When I said “thank you” and held the door open for others. When I gave up my seat on the subway. When I helped others when I could.

A city is just 8 million people living together harmoniously, co-inhabiting a space and being average together, yet peacefully so.