Erudite Primitivism

I want to be mediocre

I want a life filled with mediocrity.

Success is not an external metric. Success is not wealth, grades, citations, or market capitalization. Success is entirely internal, the sense of fulfillment you have about your life. A happy man is a successful man, whether he is a vagabond or an executive.

It's hard to let go of the need to be exceptional. The feeling that you must have a 4.0, that you must go to graduate school, that you must start a business. We have been conditioned by others who have not achieved a sense of fulfillment that success equals these external metrics.

So I no longer want an exceptional life. I want a quiet, mediocre life, filled with long hikes, slow walks, fast runs, novels read many times through, and enjoyable company at dinners.

I do not want to learn math so that I can prove some theorem and garner enough citations for a tenure track position; I want to learn math for the beauty of absolute truth.

I do not want to read books to endlessly develop skills that will benefit me in my career; I want to read books for the sake of pure enjoyment, the wonderful feeling of getting lost in a story on a long summer evening.

I do not want to engage in work for the sole sake of reputation and wealth; I want to cultivate a career that allows me the freedom to pursue the things I truly enjoy, and that make life worth living.

Being exceptional is a poor substitute for being happy.

I want to be mediocre.

- 12 toasts