in response to mediocrity


It was unexpected. I had a flurry of messages and emails from friends after I posted “I am mediocre.” The thread of their responses was that they liked my viewpoint, and found it an interesting way of confronting my superiority complex.

I wondered why.

And I wondered about how this acceptance of being mediocre is affecting me. My reflections point me to my fears.

A few weeks ago, someone said to me, “You are afraid of intimacy.” I almost fell off my chair and defense mechanisms starting ringing fire sirens. I broached the topic with him, and acknowledged that I was afraid of intimacy, possibly because I was afraid to become too close and dependent on another person, with the risk of them abandoning me, and leaving me hanging.

Where does this fear come from? Did I have traumatic experiences in my childhood that could have left scars in my subconscious?

Before I dig deeper, let me relate this fear of dependence to my reluctant acceptance of being mediocre:

I do not want to become dependent on others → so I must do it on my own → I  have to be worthy in my own right → therefore, I have to do it better than others → I must be perfect → I do not need help to be perfect or be worthy in my own right → I must do it on my own → I am about to breakdown but I am Okay on my own….

In this loop of self-talk, I convinced myself that I can do everything well on my own, catalysing the illusion of feeling like I am better than others. I discern what others do not see (I really do… especially in my bubble of imagination). I find self-serving evidence that I am smarter, quicker, faster, more comprehensive… I decided that I was superior.

And all this based on the fear of getting too close to anyone, or worse, dependent on them for my being.

When I had the flash of enlightenment, that perhaps I was mediocre, I felt a sense of liberation. I did not know it then, but it was the beginning of freedom from my own expectations on myself.

It was an understanding that I did not have to be perfect to be worthy in my own right.

It was an understanding that I am not mediocre; and I did not to prove it to anyone.

It was a new found self-confidence planting its seeds in my heart.

Am I still fearful? Possibly. And now that I have this awareness, I can work with it, reflect on it, and find a change with which I would be comfortable.

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2 Responses

  1. Grace Valentine says:

    Just found your work, your blog. Thank you for your fascinating conversations. May I share that mediocrity is an artificial construction that grows out of the natural human function of “limitation” of stimuli?

    You are amazing to write and publish and illustrate this blog so that I can feel better when I read it.

    There are so many ways to be brilliant, some are obvious and others are subtle. It’s possible to shine like the sun in one area, maybe an area others don’t really notice, but to seem banal in areas that are more noticeable.

    A brilliant calligrapher might never be noticed, and might make the mistake of transposing the values of a callow world onto her own self image.

    If making one person’s world better by sharing your thoughts counts for anything, you have some lovely jewels in there with your mediocre paving stones. You inspire me. I want to try to address my life the way you have.

    • Noch Noch says:

      Hi Grace

      Thank you for the comment and also encouraging me to continue to write and share my thoughts. I love the way you mentioned a calligrapher and the world’s jewels
      And indeed, mediocrity is our own construct and perhaps it is up to us to overcome the mental barriers in our own minds

      Take care in your corner of the world

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.