The phrase Emotional Mediorcrity recently popped into my mind when I was in session with a client who commented on my inaugural blog post. I’ve been seeing this client for many years but still couldn’t quite get a read on where he was going with his comment as he was oscillating between two related topics. Finally he said that my brief post had struck a nerve with him and that the concept of authenticity really made him stop and think. “I asked myself,” he said, “am I consistently putting forth some false front that is only a sliver of who I am?” The direction of this session delighted me because in that moment I felt this great connection to someone who was beginning to delve deeply into the idea of authenticity and how our relationships so often reflect that concept.
One hundred sixty years ago, Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Yet here we are, comfortably ensconced in the twenty-first century and I might suggest that this rings considerably more true now.
Even with countless self-help books, EST, seminars of all stripes, spiritual journeys, LSD, yoga, psychotherapy, etc… so many around us are leading lives of Emotional Mediocrity. It is true that we have brought down so many barriers to what was once considered conversations better left undiscussed, talking about our sex lives and financial situations over organic lunches and dinners. But who really knows us? Who really knows the essence of what, as is said, makes us tick? We all put forth masks, professional, social, etc… but in our harried lives of over scheduled movement from task to task, activity to activity, consistently switching one mask for another, I ask again, who knows us? Do we even know ourselves anymore? Is Emotional Mediocrity present even when we’re alone?
When I was a kid I had this seemingly incredible baby sitter. It was called television and it hit me once, in graduate school, that so many of the references I made were from my baby sitter. I remember a commercial, I think maybe for Pledge, that talked about waxy yellow build-up on wood furniture. Are we humans not just like that coffee table, covered in layers and layers of build-up and not even realizing that we can no longer see the shine of our inherent beauty, our purest essence, like the grain in a classic piece of furniture? Just what are we hiding and from whom are we hiding it? What is it about being ourselves, being human, even one with flaws, that is so, at times, distasteful that we’d rather settle for Emotional Mediocrity as opposed to the full expression of our humanity, our uniqueness? That is not to suggest that we spill our guts to anyone and everyone who happens to inquire how we’re doing. Sometimes it makes sense to simply say we’re well and move on. But from time to time, especially to those whom we consider close, go ahead and take the plunge, tell them how you really feel, what’s really going. Chances are it’ll feel pretty good to shed the cloak of mediocrity.