A number of years ago I looked around my home at the chaos that raising 6 kids had created. Goldfish crackers on the couch, discarded socks, a pile of shoes by the door, dishes in the sink left over from baking cookies the night before and taking center stage were props we were creating for an upcoming high school production. On a whim, I turned on my camera to record the state of affairs and uploaded the video to Instagram. The caption read “Keeping It Real”.
I learned something in that moment. My baring it all for the world (or my small number of IG friends) to see was freeing. But more importantly, it was freeing for other people. Almost within seconds I was getting comments and messages from other moms saying, “thank you! My house looks just like this!” It’s as if by showing 60 seconds of real life, I allowed space for admitting that life is messy. It's imperfect. It’s real, and often, it’s pretty mediocre.
We live in a world full of big ideas. Constantly, we are encouraged to be better, live larger, dare more, reach higher. All are great concepts, but I fear that when taken in the aggregate they can produce the opposite results of what we want, or more importantly what is healthy for us. Too often perfection (or the pursuit of it) looms over us and instead of becoming better, we feel we are falling behind, missing out, or not measuring up. What if instead of trying to look, act, or be perfect, we instead embraced the mediocre?
At this point, some of you probably want to stop reading. You wouldn’t be the first. In fact, years ago I was asked to write an article on raising children for a parenting website. I titled it “Mediocrity, Let’s Celebrate.” The editors hated it. Their feedback stated, “While we love the article, we don’t think the title is the type of message we want to send to our readers.” I was disappointed but I understood. The concept of mediocrity isn’t inspiring. It’s not sexy. It’s certainly not popular. But, what if, by understanding it, it allows for the freedom to let go of perfection and to let real life in? What if by recognizing that we will be great at very few things, but good enough at loads of others, we create space for adventure, compassion and grace for ourselves and others? What if by “keeping it real” we become better parents, spouses, friends, citizens and human beings?
Over the next several weeks I’m going to dive into this idea of “keeping it real.” I hope that by doing so I learn more about myself and others. Perhaps in the messy, mundane, everyday life, great joy and purpose it to be found. I hope you join me.