Mediocrity and I have not been on the best of terms recently.
Confused? Well, allow me to explain.
Ever since I was a child, I, like many people, had always wanted to achieve feats of greatness so brilliant, that they would chronicled in forever in the bones of a three headed tyrannocopter. So, for instance, I could tame a dragon. Or learn magic. Or engage in a battle to the death with Robocop. But why do those things separately, when I could do them all together?
But I digress. As I was saying, I had dreams of doing something awesome in the great big world. As I aged into the person I am today, my dreams became a bit more grounded, and magical dragon to android duels soon evolved into just using whatever was available to me to make the world a better place. But that’s the thing: while back then I was set on a warpath against a certain mechanical law enforcer, the realities that life decided to slap me with left me rather unsure of what I should do, and by extension how I should do it. And that was when I met Mediocrity.
We were first introduced in primary school, where I found him to be alright, but not the kind of friend that you ask your parents to visit. As such, we got distant, and stopped speaking after my first year of high school. However, the day I went to ALA, he started calling and hanging up without saying a word. And near the end of the first term, I could swear I saw him standing outside my window. As I sunk deeper into the odd lifestyle of ALA, Mediocrity just stalked me with a disconcerting determination.
What did Mediocrity’s unwarranted presence facilitate? Well, as I was presented more opportunities to do awesome things over the course of my life, a rather disconcerting thought pervaded through my mind: what if I never managed to deliver on said awesome things? What if the things that I did in my time as a naïve teenager never panned out into something bigger than just that? The thought of becoming a complacent sheep in the cubicle farm that was office life had always scared me, but my sudden closeness with Mediocrity had let me have a peep through the proverbial keyhole. And it scared me. It truly and utterly scared me.
It was later that I realised that beyond the constant theme of equality that our generation has had the pleasure of basking in, the only thing separating me from some uninspired office drone you would find in an cubicle at Eskom, is circumstance, opportunity and will to deliver on that opportunity. I had the privilege of relatively comfortable circumstance, and a lot of brilliant opportunity: the problem was, my first year in ALA had allowed Mediocrity to latch on to me, stopping me from really delivering well, but never quite preventing me from doing so in the first place.
But as I looked even deeper into the chaotic mess that is my thought pattern, I asked myself a question: am I scared of the cubicle itself? Honestly, no. What I am scared of, however, is that it means that every day, I will wake up at the same time. Every day, I will start the same car, and head over to the same office. Every day I will groan at the same government controversy on the radio. Every day, my boss will give me the same lecture about the same clerical error, in the same, intimidating voice. Every day I will tell myself that I am doing this for my future, in the same hushed tone. And every day, the same feeling of consuming dread will engulf me as I realise that the routine I trapped myself in is tearing away any semblance of a life from me, only dangling the prospect of an unsure retirement as a supposed reward. And that is what keeps me up at night, no matter how tired my body tells me I am. That is what stalks within Mediocrity’s murky gaze as I try to fight him back. That is what terrifies me.