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Why it’s OK to be mediocre – just being you as a woman is great

Being “mediocre” carries a lot of negative connotations. The dictionary definition – “of only average quality; not very good” – only confirms the societal view that if you're mediocre, you have thrown in the towel, possess a lack of ambition and are a bit, well, crap.

But hear us out: There's another school of thought that is clapping back with the theory that not only is it acceptable to be mediocre but you may actually be thriving. Even if you can't remember the last time you washed your bedsheets.

So it's time to flip the script. International Women's Day is, rightly, a celebration of incredible, empowered women who have done game-changing things that are deeply inspirational. But the stark reality is, most women go on to live what is a pretty ordinary life – and that is no bad thing.

Many of our pre-conceived ideas about mediocrity can be traced back to childhood – whether it's being introduced to the idea of superheroes via Marvel's comics and films, or a rewards system at school. “Society places a premium on success being related to accomplishment and excellence,” says psychologist Lee Chambers.

“We spend time in education being measured and compared from a young age, where the cleverest, the most athletic and those who fit modern beauty standards are championed," Lee continues. "But sometimes, it's also our own big vision, and not feeling like we are getting near it, that can fuel feelings of negative mediocrity, as we ruminate rather than celebrate the gain from where we started.”

Comparison culture fuelled by social media, only adds to this negative bias. According to Lee, Instagram gives us access to millions of options to compare ourselves to in a way that was never possible before. “The highlight reels have an added impact by focussing on the exceptional without any of the reality," he says. "This distorts how far away mediocrity feels from normal, while adding another layer of expectation for success and excellence to be our yardstick for measuring life.”

Even sleep has become competitive. What should be the most natural and ordinary thing in the world has now become an aspirational wellness goal, with billion dollar businesses pushing sleep apps upon us to reinforce the need for eight hours of ‘perfect’ shut-eye.

On the flip side, some experts believe that accepting the beauty of mediocrity is actually the key to happiness.

According to the charity Mind, one in four people will experience a mental health problem such as anxiety and depression each year in England . So it makes sense that rather than exert a Herculean effort to be stellar in every aspect of your life – being the best at work, the most popular friend, having the dream house/car/family – accepting your self-worth and your vulnerability is a sign of good mental health.

For pyschologist Kamalyn Kaur, accepting that “good enough” really is good enough provides peace of mind. “Once you accept that you are enough, you stop judging yourself and indulging in self-criticism and people pleasing.”

Dr Marianne Trent, clinical psychologist at the Good Thinking Psychological Services, concurs. “The benefit of accepting 'good enough' as your benchmark is that you're no longer a slave to comparison, which is the thief of joy," she says. “Perfection is an impossibly high standard and striving for it can lead to burnout and releases stress hormones such as cortisol. This more relaxed approach can have a knock-on impact on our health and wellbeing with better gut health, reduced tension and more of a spring in our step.”

So today, don't just settle for being mediocre, celebrate it. Above all, cut yourself some slack.

This article was originally published on Glamour UK.

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