One day at a desk critique, my professor tells me if I don't start trying harder I'm only going to ever be mediocre. He went on to explain my designs were average at best. The whole time I was choking back tears. My professors had over the years made it clear that these critiques were about our work, not about us, so not to take what is said personally.
I know and have told myself he was trying to motivate me with these words, but these words have hurt me and are still affecting me. Even six years later, I'm scared of being mediocre, not adding anything original or worthwhile to the world.
I admit that the base reason I gave up on my pursuit of becoming a licensed architect is because of this fear. This conversation with my professor did not plant this seed of fear in me, it mainly amplified it to the point where I could not ignore it or live in bliss of ignorance I had lived in before. My idealistic views of my future were shattered that day and were not repaired as my college years in the program went on.
Going to college, I was under the illusion that I would go to school and learn how to take my field by storm. This was partly naiveté, on my part. I did not do enough research ahead of time to make sure I was making an appropriate career path choice.
With this naiveté and fly by the seat of my pants mentality, I was setting myself up for a brick wall collision somewhere along the way. I'm surprised it took until the end of Sophomore year!
I tried harder, but soon realized I was at my peak far behind my classmates. With a shortage of jobs because of a collapse in the housing and building market, I found I could not compete for the few jobs available because of the nagging reminders that I wasn't good enough or trying hard enough.
Soon, I was exhausted. Between the strenuous hours of studio work, my graduation date rushing towards me, and the hunt for a job, I was barely sleeping and stressed to the max. All the while, I was terrified of mediocrity. I was tired of not making a mark on the people around me.
I was struggling to see my purpose.
Realizing I'd have to move in with parents after graduation because of a lack of a job, I knew that was the end to my architectural pursuits. They lived in an area with even fewer architecture job opportunities than where my school was! The job market everywhere was flooded with more experienced candidates and time passing only meant more recent graduates would be coming on the scene as well. I knew I couldn't compete. Maybe it was the voice in my head saying, you're just mediocre, maybe it was reality finally hitting that this was not my skill set.
Either way, I gave up, got three part-time jobs since my school loans were coming due and tried to distract myself from my classmates getting internships and returning to school for their masters degree. I wanted to go back to be with friends but knew the course load would be too much for me.
That time after graduation wasn't all bad. Because of living closer to my family and my boyfriend, I was able to reinvest in those relationships I had neglected. My boyfriend became my husband, and my family became friends on a new level. So many blessing came from being home for those two years after graduation.
Now with life settling after marriage, a move across three states, and a baby, I've been able to process all these changes in a new light and realize the fear of mediocrity has followed me. It's been with me well before my sophomore year of college, and is still hard to shake.
Today, aspirations of being a "Supermom" seem to be my way of battling my fear of mediocrity. I must excel at what I do to battle that broken record in my head telling me I'll never be more than average.
I've found that record plays louder when I'm in a spiritual desert. When I'm not relying on God, I seem to let my thoughts of self doubt play louder.
The more time in this desert, the more ways my thoughts bring out my insecurities.
I find myself in a new spiritual desert now as I'm battling exhaustion, sleep deprivation, separation from family, endless household tasks, all while trying to embrace my changing child and keep my marriage strong.
As much as I hated hearing her say this over and over when I was younger, I find the words of my mother entering my thoughts: Your identity is in Christ as a child of God. Remember whose you are.
I obviously have failed Christ in many ways as anyone has. HE, however, has extended grace so that even if I am average or mediocre at best:
HE still died for me!
HE still provided a way of salvation for me.
HE still loves me and pursues me to be closer to HIM!