Mediocre

Do you ever feel like you haven’t quite figured out your gift(s)? Like you may have talents in a lot of areas, but you don’t really seem to excel in one?

I have had this frustration for years. In the past year, I haven’t had a lot of time to dwell on it, but in the couple of weeks since Christmas, life has slowed down a lot (I planned it that way, so it’s nice that it’s turning out how I’d hoped). I have had more time to think and write and renew interest in things I haven’t focused on in ages.

Even though I’ve finally discovered “what I want to be when I grow up” (a wife, mother and photographer), I still feel as though there is some larger rock left unturned, and that lurking underneath it is the secret “gift” I’ve been hoping to uncover my whole life.

In high school, I was in everything. I could be, since our school was small-ish (only 150 kids in my grade). I was first chair flute in band, sang alto in the choir, did very well at academics without much effort, and participated in many other extra-curriculars (volleyball, soccer, golf, basketball, softball, knowledge bowl, and drama to name some). I had a blast doing so, but I never really developed any of those talents fully.

I got to college and realized there were a whole HOST of people better than me at all those things. I was last chair flute in the college concert band, still sang alto in the choir, and was involved in a few extra-curriculars (co-ed intramural basketball, Campus Crusade, led worship and Bible studies and helped with youth group at my church). I settled for A’s and B’s (and even one C, darn that Materials class!) so I could still have a life outside of academics (and I still don’t regret that one bit). But again, I never found one thing at which I stood out.

I have hobbies: I make cards, crochet, very occasionally scrapbook, write, work out, spend time outdoors, read, cook, bake, etc. And I’m decent at most of them (a subjective assessment, I realize), but I wouldn’t say “excellent” or even “good” at any of them.

My lines of work, mothering and photography, are never-exhausted subjects where one can always find someone who is doing it better than you.

So what’s a girl to do? Do I just pick something and try my darnedest to be my very best? Or do I continue muddling through life, mediocrity marking my existence?

If you have discovered That Thing that you do best, would you mind sharing what it is? And how you discovered it was your gift?

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12 thoughts on “Mediocre

  1. it doesn’t matter if you do.
    There will always be a host of people who say you aren’t.
    i suppose the greatest acheivement is to be given proof that you inspire others.
    Noone can scoff at your success then

  2. Ah, Heidi, I could have written this post! I too feel the same way. (In fact, I wrote about it on my blog in 2008!)

    I feel as if I have unlocked potential somewhere… but have yet to discover it. My problem is, I’m 37, so if I’m going to unlock something, I need to find the key ASAP!

    But, seriously, you know, when I worked at my church, I thought that I was finally beginning to unlock my potential, but quickly realized that my calling in life (right now) is my family. God entrusted me to two little girls to raise to be Godly young women in a time where it could not be MORE crucial to raise a Godly generation. Yes, I do the “fun” stuff still, like blogging, crafting, working out, graphic design, etc., but that doesn’t mean my job as a mom is less fruitful. What I have found is that I am more apt to give my talents/gifts away to people who need it – like helping a friend make her blog beautiful or meeting a friend at the gym to help them get started in weight training, etc.

    I will state for the record you are an amazing photographer and yes, there will always be someone out there bigger and better, but you are pretty darn fantastic too! Just sayin’…

  3. Wow….do I ever feel that way. Not that I can comment on what’s a girl to do since I’m a guy, but the feeling you have is certainly a human one. I haven’t alway been the brightest bulb in the pack and I’ve been ok with that, but when it comes to the question of what am I good at, what skills has God given me that I’m not using, I always draw blanks. Like Erica, here I am 40 yrs old and feeling like it’s time for the show to get on. Most of the time It’s feels like the tickets to said show are sold out. Being a very detail oriented person, I suppose my job gives me lots of opportunity for that skill, but it’s not a job I would’ve chosen. For my personal life, I’m very good with mechanical things and my friends say I have great eye for photography, but I see those as hobbies more than anything else.
    Sure, you could go crazy with trying different things, but you’d probably burn yourself out in the process. You have a growing family, and that seems to agree with you. You have a business that you actually like, have a natural talent for, and oh , BTW you’re very good at it. You’ve made your little slice of life yours…that’s a good thing isn’t it?
    Sorry I don’t a success story for you, or any secrets about finding that one particular gift. Maybe I shouldn’t be looking so hard. Maybe your gift is this blog…reading it has certainly gotten me to thinking about new things or looking at old things in a new light.

  4. I think you’re lucky to have so many “talents” and to find joy in so many different things! Though there might be people who excel you in a certain area you will have the advantage of getting more from everything. And just imagine, if you’re getting bored with doing one thing then you’ll always have something else to do without the long struggle of trying if you like the new activity…

  5. Well, I don’t have anything that I excel at either. But I was comforted recently by a quote that said something like this (I need to find it back): “we want so desperately for our children to be born normal, with ten fingers, ten toes, on time, a normal size….and then when they arrive, all we do is try to make them different than others, to stand out, to be the best at things. Why not celebrate the normal? Celebrate what makes us who we are, instead of who we are not?”

    I thought that was pretty true. So I’m trying to just accept who I am, with certain gifts that might not be the best, but they are ME.

  6. I’ve been a mom for 20 years, and about this time each year, I’m just bored with the repetition of parts of the job. The kids aren’t boring, but the stuff behind them is! My challenges come from a “moron” quilt or knitting project. I can tackle something really hard and use my brain, and have a gorgeous finished item to show for it. I didn’t get really good at it overnight though. It took years of trying new things, and expanding my skills. Maybe for you, it is photography. Try a new technique or piece of software. (I uploaded, edited, and exported my photos in Lightroom today for the first time. Your turn!!!) Just do something you like to do, and challenge yourself to try something new within that area.

  7. I really like what mariajhmom said.

    A person who has tried as many different things as you is hardly mediocre. You may not be the world’s best flutist, but 99.9% of the world can’t begin to play ANYTHING on the flute.

    I played the violin. I wasn’t fantastic, but I could pick it up right now and squeak out something sounding sort of like a song. I recognize that is an unusual skill and I proudly display it in my mental list of Stuff I Can Do! Yay, me!

    You are more extraordinary than you realize. You are a do-er, and that is never mediocre.

    A mediocre person is one who never tries, never reaches, never bothers.

  8. I like what gretchen AND mariajhmom said. Actually, what everybody has said up to this point. All I wanted to say is I think you are FAR better than a mediocre photographer! Not to mention the PERFECT (perfect! isn’t that what we’re all after?) mother for Anja and this new little one. Even if you don’t always “mother” perfectly.

  9. Yeah, I totally get it. I don’t know. I’ve always felt the way you do in this post. mediocre and maybe even good at a number of things…but excelling and rocking the party? Not sure. It frustrates me. But I think it’s true that part of that is that I don’t believe enough in the good things I’m doing to really keep focusing on them to the point of practicing until I’ve excelled a bit….

    My rambling might not be making sense. I’m tired.

    Apparently I excel at rambling 🙂

  10. I talk about this a lot with other moms. The re-inventing of self after motherhood…it seems we have a lot in common too (crocheting, photography, card making, flute playing and singing!)
    Keep praying about this, I’ve been a ‘Jack of all trades’ forever and just landed a part-time job outside the home. God has been faithful in providing for me in my time of need. 🙂

  11. I am not really GREAT at anything.
    I’m okay at writing, but so are a million other people and without the drive to go the next step…
    I can make okay pies. But I don’t want to make pies for a living.
    I’m really good at doing eye makeup.
    None of these things really come together into a big magical SKILL, though. And yet I’m happy with myself. SO I don’t know what the moral is: have low standards, maybe.

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