Trading my crown for a cape

I’ve been feeling like the Queen of Mediocrity lately. I keep having grand plans for how to be Excellent at Everything, but then life (and watermelon heads) get in the way. I end up looking at my lists, my charts, my calendars…and reaching for my crown in defeat.

I told my husband how frustrated I am. I look around and I see success everywhere. Amazing parents who manage not only to craft and bake and build forts but actually enjoy it, too. Teachers who create these incredible units filled with fun and learning that make their students into incredible scientists or writers or whatever. Bloggers who build gigantic followings in a year with their thoughtful, witty writing.

I know what it takes to be great at each role: time, energy, dedication, passion. So why don’t I have it? Or rather, why can’t I maintain it?

“You’re doing too much,” Jonathan told me. “You have to give yourself a break.”

A break? Who has time for a break? A break is why I’m wearing this Crown of Mediocrity! I cried. And what is it I’m supposed to give up, exactly?

He sighed. I examined the jewels in my crown. They were made of glass. Stupid jewels. Stupid crown.

“I heard this thing on NPR back in January,” he began carefully.

This time I sighed. Really? You’re going to quote NPR at me? I thought. But I wisely kept my mouth shut and listened.

“You’re not taking into account the setbacks that are going to happen. If you just know that some days you won’t work out because you’re sick. Or you won’t make the best lesson for your class because you’re busy with homework. Or you won’t feel like painting with the boys one day. If you accept those setbacks, but you try again the next day, maybe that is how you can reach your goals.”

Hmm. I twirled the crown around in my thoughts. I am sick of being mediocre. But I decided he and whoever it was on NPR and Scarlett O’Hara were right: Tomorrow is another day.

More importantly, small steps will eventually get me there, wherever There turns out to be.

I don’t like to do anything unless I’m pretty sure I can do it well, but the reality of parenthood for me is that I don’t want to give up anything. I want to have a career and a hobby and be a supermom, all at the same time. I want to have time for my family and friends, and time alone, too.

So I can give up most of those goals and just focus on one, or I can take small steps in all of them and see where I end up.

On the days when I feel like Iā€™m standing still, I can try again tomorrow. Or after nap. Or next week.

So Iā€™m tossing away my Crown of Mediocrity in search of a Superstar Cape. It just may take me a million small steps to find it.

Starting with one post, one cookie-making mess, one great lesson, one date night, one tough workout, one phone call.

A million small steps. It feels hard. It feels far away. Yes, there will be more setbacks.

But that Cape is going to be mine.

13 Responses to Trading my crown for a cape
  1. Robbie
    April 12, 2012 | 1:40 pm

    You will rock that cape! I’v found myself to be more of a cape than a crown girl….

  2. Gramma
    April 12, 2012 | 2:18 pm

    Interesting synchronicity that I am reading your post just now. Feeling decidedly inept, I found a blog about academic writing and this concept seems to relate to your dilemma (and you definitely put in more than 2 hrs per day so you are ahead of the curve already!

    http://getalifephd.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-to-become-better-faster-writer.html
    The idea of deep or deliberate practice has been around for a few decades. Proponents of this idea argue that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice make an expert. This does not mean just spending 10,000 hours, or 2 hours a day for ten years, doing something, but doing it purposefully, always pushing your limits. Scholars and popular writers such as Daniel Coyle (The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.) and Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: The Story of Success) have used this idea to explain chess prodigies, Olympic swimmers, and phenomenal musicians.

    Worried you will never be a good writer? Well, worry no more, after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, you will be among the best. And, if 10,000 hours sounds like a long time to wait, fret not. You probably already have quite a few hours of practice under your belt, and you will see immediate results once you begin to practice your writing on a daily basis.

  3. Rach
    April 13, 2012 | 2:11 pm

    That cape WILL be yours! Each small step on the way will be worth it! šŸ™‚

  4. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf
    April 15, 2012 | 7:33 pm

    I totally needed to read this post. I too have been all over the place and not doing anything well and frankly not really motivated. I’ve been thinking a lot this week that I could be OK with that but you know what, I don’t really want to be. I want to cape too!!

  5. Maggie May
    April 15, 2012 | 10:35 pm

    I think we all feel this way in seasons. I’ve been SO mediocre since our last baby was born sixteen months ago. Your husband is a smart man šŸ˜‰

  6. Brandy
    April 16, 2012 | 8:17 am

    I’ve never been a perfectionist. I’m pretty content with mediocrity, actually. šŸ™‚ But I’ve been feeling sort of the same way lately, I look around and everyone else seems to be so (more easily) successful and I get frustrated and insecure about it. It’s an ongoing battle for me to remember that they’re not me and being me is all I can do. I think taking small steps is good advice.

  7. Sharon {Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful}
    April 16, 2012 | 1:51 pm

    Oh, I want a cape, too!

    If you are the Queen of Mediocrity, then I’m the Princess. I feel like I just barely get the things that need to be done, done. And not necessarily well.

    I hardly have time for the FUN things. Or the also important, but not as important things …

    Hang in there!

  8. Missy @ Wonder, Friend
    April 16, 2012 | 7:05 pm

    Oh, this just hit me exactly where I am right now! I have been walking around for days, feeling like I’m doing all of these THINGS, but none of them well.

    I’m having the “try again tomorrow” talk with myself… I need a cape!

  9. Missy | Literal Mom
    April 17, 2012 | 1:13 pm

    You will SO get that cape because you totally deserve it! I love the crown of mediocrity too. Not the crown itself, mind you. But the idea behind it – no WONDER you know exactly how I’m feeling right now! Hang in there back to YOU, Jessica! We can help each other.

  10. Aunt Lori
    April 17, 2012 | 6:16 pm

    Keep remembering that “it’s the JOURNEY” that counts in the end. šŸ™‚

  11. Susan
    April 17, 2012 | 6:43 pm

    my favorite mentor ever once told me the only way to eat an elephant is in small bites. you reminded me today that motherhood is so much like that… every day, i take one small step towards figuring out how to be a better mom. the negative (for me, anyway) is that (1) too many days i take too many steps backwards for the forward steps to mean anything and (2) that means that i’ll figure out how to be a mom the day after my last child leaves for college. oh well, at least i’ll get there one day!

    • Jessica@Team Rasler
      April 18, 2012 | 4:53 am

      A classmate of mine was just talking about that joke! “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The students think it is hilarious.

      I worry, too, that I won’t know what I’m doing until they move out! Maybe not even then. Right now I’m trying to think of rough days not as moving backwards but as standing still. That way each forward step still counts!

  12. Christine
    April 26, 2012 | 3:07 am

    I love this post! Such good advice – accept that there are going to be setbacks, revel in each single, small completed task as an accomplishment… I’m going to try that one out today!

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