Accepting Mediocrity over Striving for Perfection

Accepting Mediocrity over Striving for Perfection

Mary Kate Pinkelman, Sports Writer

Nobody is perfect. It is okay to make mistakes. Just do your best. These phrases are heard everywhere throughout life. Whether it’s for a kindergartener who did not read the sentence correctly or a high schooler who got a poor grade on their final test, you have heard these phrases. But how much real truth is there to them? Although people may say that you do not have to be perfect, the actions and indirect statements that go against these surface-level sayings mean a lot more. Pressure for perfection, from yourself and others, is extremely prevalent in an average high school student’s life, and the only way to combat this pressure is to accept mediocrity.


As college acceptance rates drop and the exigency of getting into a top-rated school increases, it almost seems impossible to succeed in life without being perfect. Let’s look at the application statistics of Harvard University, a top 10 school on Forbes top colleges list. Over 50,000 people apply to Harvard every year and of those, 8000 have perfect high school GPAs and 3,400 have perfect SAT scores, but only 2,000 students are accepted every year. This trend is not only seen across top-rated schools, but all universities where even perfection doesn’t seem to be enough. Despite constant pressure to be perfect, it is impossible to be, which sets up a never-ending cycle of failure.


The societal stigma that making mistakes makes you a failure is seen everywhere, not just in academics. The idea that if you are good at something, you are automatically worth more than others, is an incredibly toxic mindset that nearly everyone holds and forces the belief that perfection is the only option. Social media plays a role in why people feel the need to be perfect, because it makes it seem like everyone around them is perfect. The endless scrolling of seeing everyone else’s life through a peephole and only seeing the best parts has caused teenagers to compare themselves to others. Suicide rates have increased by30% from 2000 to 2020, partially due to the rise of social media and the perfectionism that comes along with it.

Although some stress about perfection may come from others, most of it probably comes from yourself, but that does not make it any less debilitating when you fail, especially when failure is not often. When you try to be perfect in sports, school, your social life, and everything else that you do, you will probably succeed in almost everything you do. You will get straight As, you will make varsity for most of your sports, but what happens when you inevitably fail? What happens when you put all your worth into being perfect in everything and then suddenly, you are not? The root of the problem with perfection is it doesn’t show how to cope with failing, and leaves perfectionists anxious, stressed, and feeling like they’re worthless. The only way to prevent this is to go against what everyone has ever told you and be mediocre.


According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, mediocrity means ‘the quality of being average or ordinary’ and usually has a negative connotation when used. But is being average really that bad? If you accept your own mediocrity and accept that most people are just average, you will slowly be able to accept your failure. By moving away from perfectionism, you are able to celebrate your successes instead of them being expected and, in turn, acknowledge that failures are okay as well. Mediocrity does not mean failing, but the pressure to be perfect has changed the meaning of being average to being inferior.