the abyss of mediocrity

I wouldn’t say I am a fearful person, though I am afraid of many things.

I have a fear of falling, which is why you’ll never catch me skydiving or bungee jumping. It’s also why I lived four years in a bike riding college town without ever getting on a bike.

I fear unicorns.

I fear getting in trouble, or getting caught in the act of breaking the rules. Which is why, on the rare occasion that I pay for one movie but sneak into a second, I bring a hat and a change of clothes and change in between films so that the movie ushers don’t recognize me. True story.

I fear creepy crawly critters. One time I camped outside, without a tent, and it was one of the scariest nights of my life. Will not be repeating that adventure.

I fear death. My own and of the people I care about.  I love life too much and also fear the unknown of the afterworld.  I really hope there are no unicorns there.

More than anything else, I fear mediocrity.

Many, many years ago, when one of my friends, Lori and I had just been dumped by our post-college “loves,” I remember her saying, in one of our bitch sessions with Alannis Morrissette playing in the background, “We’re way better off without them anyway. We are going to do something with our lives and they are just going to sink into the abyss of mediocrity.” That phrase, “abyss of mediocrity” has stuck with me all of these sixteen years.

I fear that abyss. That place where nothing is incredible and nothing sucks. It’s like a lukewarm bath or a movie that doesn’t make me cry or laugh. I loathe adjectives like “good” and “okay.” I want something to be incredible or the worst thing ever.

Personally, I want to fly high above that abyss, that place that I fear, or at least go down trying.

This post was inspired by my good bloggy friend, Not Just Another Jen, who started a “Word of the Month Club.” This month, to tie into Halloween I presume, is “fear.” Thanks Jen, for getting me to think about this and reminding me to strive for greatness rather than sink into that abyss.

Happy Halloween, dear readers.




  1. 1
    Rachael says:

    You, my dear, are Anything but mediocre!!! Happy Halloween

  2. 2

    Based on what I read here, your life does not seem mediocre by any stretch. However, I know what you mean about the fear/the feeling. The older I get the more I feel like I’m slowly slumping into mediocrity. It takes a big effort to plan something that takes me out of the oatmeal existence. (BTW, I am doing a tandem jump sky dive on my 50th birthday. I’m scared to death to do it but I know I’ll be so proud of myself.)

    • Mary says:

      Oatmeal existence, I love that phrase, but dread it! I can tell from your writing that you are not even close! So excited for you to skydive! But wait, that’s a ways off, right?

  3. 3
    Maribel says:

    I completely understand the feeling. However I tend to use fear as a motivation. Except on death and breaking rules. I began blogging out of fear of what I would think about my lack of in ten-twenty years from now. Because of the “what if I… ” that keeps me going!
    You keep going too, you are very creative and successful! ;)

    • Mary says:

      Yes, using fear for motivation is what successful people do. Usually the things I love in the end, or enjoy the most, are the things I was terrified of at some point.

  4. 4

    Oh lovely Ms. Mary, YOU are not anyone I would worry about when I comes to the abyss of mediocrity. Hells no.

    I love that phrasing too.

    You love and live to the fullest. That’s one of the things that I so enjoy about you. Happy Halloween to you & your family.

    Thanks for playing with me (in a bloggy kind of way). xoxo

  5. 5
    Cindy says:

    It is funny you wrote this today as I was just thinking about a phrase my stepfather used with one of his sons, “Are you striving for mediocrity?” I hope those 5 words will someday inspire one of my girls when they go at something half-way.

  6. 6
    DeNae says:

    I totally get this. And I’m pretty sure I’m the Mayor of Mediocrityville. Sigh.

    • Mary says:

      Just by the fact that you came up with the term Mayor of Mediocrity proves to me that you are just the opposite. : )

  7. 7

    I’ve been excelling at mediocrity my whole life. It’s weird – in someways it’s awesome – flying in this radar of never failing but never really flying high..but sometimes it would be awesome to just be completely the best at something..just once. I’m teaching my girls to be much more. xo

  8. 8
    Galit Breen says:

    I love this so very much, Mary and wows is it ever relatable.

    Also? Girl, you are destined for so much more than that abyss. That much, is clear!


  9. 9

    Is it alright to put a portion of this on my personal webpage if I submit a reference to this site?
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