Dare to be mediocre

This was my speech today for the Humorous Speech contest at Downtown Toastmasters. (We welcome visitors. Visit us any Thursday at noon!)

Success is not owned, it’s rented — and rent is due every day.
—Rory Vaden

This is great if you want to be successful.

But what if you want to be mediocre?

Mediocre: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance:  ordinary, so-so, as defined by Merriam-Webster.

It was hard for me to find a quote that will inspire you to be mediocre. Instead, I will tell you a little about how I embrace mediocrity.

Contest Judge, Fellow Toastmasters and valued guests, I will tell you a story of why success is overrated.

In 2010, I got into knitting. Then in 2011, I got into crochet.

When I say, “got into,” I mean I created a pile of yarn in my house…in my car…in my purse…anywhere I am, you will find yarn.

I literally got into a cloud of yarn and I haven’t left since.

Why yarn? Yarn doesn’t care. I can make mediocre objects—or even terrible objects—and the yarn doesn’t care.

It’s the perfect hobby for me. Too often in my life, I was driven to improve. I wanted excellence. I wanted to get better at whatever I did—whether that was with my writing, my productivity or my public speaking, as shown by my presence in this club.

But with knitting and crochet, I don’t care. I don’t care that I am mediocre. Yarn doesn’t care.

Unfortunately, my hobby—or habit—does take a toll. On other people. Yes, I subject friends, family and the public to my mediocre skills with yarn. How many people here have gotten something with yarn from me? Poor friends. Now, how many of you still have it? Don’t answer that!

An example of my lack of respect for other people is with my forest floor shawl. [PUT ON SHAWL]

The majority of my work is freeform—I don’t follow a pattern. I just start crocheting. Sometimes I have an idea in mind.

For this piece, I wanted it to look like I rolled around on the forest floor. Yes, that was my original idea.

Can you see it, the forest floor?

First off, weird idea for a piece of clothing.

What’s worse, I wore this to work.

I don’t have a job as an elf at a medieval fair. I don’t have a job as a woods witch making love potions for people. I have an actual, professional, adult job working at the university.

Fortunately, I have worked with the same colleagues for years and they know me well enough to always be honest with me.

A few years ago when I wore my forest floor shawl to a staff meeting, my two friends looked at me and one of them said, “What is that?”

“It’s my forest floor shawl,” I said. I said this proudly.

I explained that I wanted it to look like I had rolled around in moss, lichens and twigs.

I could tell from their faces that it wasn’t having the effect I had hoped for.

I talked more about the benefits of the shawl. “This shawl is so soft. It’s great for hugging.”

Colleague Michelle said, “I will never hug you in that shawl.”

Flash forward to yesterday, when I mentioned to Michelle that I was going to be in the speech contest today.

“It’s about my forest floor shawl,” I said.

She said she wasn’t familiar with it.

I explained that she was, in fact, familiar with it. I reminded her that she had said she would never hug me in it.

“That checks out,” she said. “I can see myself saying that.”

We laughed and laughed.

In conclusion, I encourage you to do what you like and ease up about feeling the need to be successful. It’s OK to be mediocre if it makes you happy.

I leave you with this quote by Albert Schweitzer:

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

PS—Guess who hugged me in my forest floor shawl today??


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