I am terribly afraid of mediocrity. I don’t know why. It’s like this obsession with greatness. Good isn’t good enough. I’m good at a lot of things, but not great, not outstanding. Or, at least, that was the thing that I thought for so long.

I don’t know where this fear comes from, except that I don’t want to melt away into a quiet unhappy life. The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

It’s where my competitiveness and perfectionism stem from, I know that much.

I’ve reached a kind of cross-roads, where I can feel my self moving beyond and being ready to let go of all these things I’ve made up about myself and the world and how things are supposed to be, while at the same time I am still in the midst of them and how much they define who I am and how I function.

I know that there is no one right way to be, that there isn’t even one kind of greatness, and that sometimes greatness comes in what some might perceive as mediocre packaging. More likely than not, being who I am and doing what I love will be what creates any kind of greatness in my life.

But I still worry that I’ve gotten off track, taken a wrong turn. Or that I will do these things, could do these things, that every decision has the potential to yield these undesired results. What if there is some outside force that was meant to shape me and refine me and I’ve moved away from that force, and it’s set me adrift?

I know that that fear is irrational and generally unfounded because I do have a very clear sense of direction in my life, and I have a strong work ethic and goals that will push me forward and help me achieve what I want. Yet still the fear lingers in the air around me. And, strangely enough, I almost don’t want to let it go. What would happen if I wasn’t so worried about outcomes and how they fared on the scale of impressiveness? What would happen then?

For several years now, I have been aware that I accepted many falsehoods as true in my youth, that what I built on the foundation of those falsehoods was dubious, and therefore that, once in my life, I would need to tear down everything and begin anew from the foundations if I wanted to establish any firm and lasting knowledge. But the task seemed enormous, and I waited until I was so old that no better time for undertaking it would be likely to follow. I have thus delayed so long that it would be wrong for me to waste in indecision the time left for action. Today, then, having rid myself of worries and having arranged for some peace and quiet, I withdraw alone, free at last earnestly and wholeheartedly to overthrow all my beliefs.

– Rene Descartes

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