When I was in my early 20s I thought everyone was supposed to be the next great writer, inventor, entrepreneur, or philanthropist. I couldn’t understand how someone could be okay with not doing anything notably remarkable in their life. I went as far as writing an impassioned blog post titled Striving for Mediocrity that ripped apart anything less than the desire to change the world.
And then I lived another decade on earth and changed my mind.
While this naive approach came from a good place and served me well in some instances, I had no context to the bigger picture in life to know what I was talking about. I was like the empowered college student wearing rose colored glasses with nothing but wonderful experiences ahead of me. Needless to say, a decade of life changes our perspectives whether we want it to or not.
Over time, I learned a few things.
I realized that the character of a person doesn’t generally affect their success.
I saw that there were perfectly happy people in the world that would never have their name in the headlines.
I found that contentedness and success are oftentimes mutually exclusive.
I experienced loss, grief, and redemption, which showed me what life in its most raw state is like.
In short, I learned that being “okay” in life is…more than okay.
It may seem strange that a personal development author is writing about how leading a mediocre life is just fine. But it’s true, and I’d be lying if I just tried to pass off a facade of constant improvement for the sake of improvement. The truth is that some people are wired for that life, but many aren’t. For the many that aren’t, it does you no good to feel the constant external pressure of growth if it’s not what excites you about life. As the saying goes, to each their own. It’s not my business, or anyone else’s, to tell you you’re supposed to be something you don’t want to be.
There is a caveat to the conversation however.
What I don’t think is okay is leaving persistent desires unexplored. Many of us, at some point in our lives, feel the nudge of pursuit. It could be a book to write, a non-profit to start, or a business venture to try. When we’re one of the people that feels this nudge, I do believe it’s on us to honor it and explore it.
Call it God. Call it the universe. Call it our innate desires surfacing. Call it our “calling.” Whatever it is, this is an unrealized version of ourself and our future that is asking to be given permission. It’s our job to give it.
This isn’t a call to turn this internal pull into the vanity of success and wealth. This is a call to turn this internal pull into our own art. I think we’re all wired with the ability to create, and that itch is our inner creator wanting to express itself.
Maybe life has nothing to do with growth, success, or personal development.
Maybe it has everything to do with being present enough to hear that internal voice if and when it speaks, and having the courage to let it talk when it does.
And if we don’t ever hear it? That’s okay too.