Question: I feel mediocre. Am I as mediocre as I feel? Is there a cure, or am I doomed?


You seem to have the mediocrity blues — a terrible, gnawing type of ennui that burrows deep into your body and magically carves a Hawthorne-esque “B+/B” into the skin around your sternum. The truth is you may or may not actually be dull and average. But the majority of people have to be, so the odds are not on your side. To help you avoid wasting time toiling away only to achieve unremarkable things, I provide you with a list of ten ways to know for certain that you are destined not to be remembered. If any of the following ten scenarios evokes your life, that’s really pretty sad.

1. Your mother, at a recent firm cocktail party, joked about how you really only got into Yale because Grandfather put in a call/paid for a new residential college. Lawyers laughed and pointed at you.

2. The professor teaching the seminar you took last semester never learned your name. There were only two people in the seminar. Including the professor.

3. You built a cubicle around your desk, and it felt cozy… like the womb.

4. Defying Nike’s edict to just do it, you just don’t do it, with “it” meaning anything that would make you a person worthy of the notice of other people. As in you stopped doing things that you could have put on the Common Application.

5. You wear the Sister Hazel shirt from last year’s Spring Fling, not because it was free, but because you like Sister Hazel.

6. After a recent hookup, the guy/girl with whom you locked lips proceeded to wipe his/her mouth on a napkin while muttering, “Huh, interesting” and later declined your friend request on Facebook… twice.

7. Actually you don’t have Facebook; you have MySpace.

8. You think “Everybody Loves Raymond” is funny. You think that your life is funny in a way that is evocative of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Unfortunately, the only people laughing at you are the lawyers mentioned in number one.

9. Clothing and footwear in your size are always sold out.

10. At Urban Outfitters.

Now that you realize that you are, indeed, as mediocre as the rest of us, what is there to do about it? You could cry a little, or write a poem unworthy of publication, or you could make a YouTube video of yourself kvetching and post a link to it on your blog. The other option is that you could choose to embrace your bleh/average status and you finally feel OK about wanting to be an orthodontist. You could stop caring that people make fun of you when you say that your favorite book is “The Da Vinci Code,” that your favorite movie is “Garden State” and that you just can’t listen to enough Coldplay.

If this type of instant acquiescence is too abrupt for you, here’s a fun fact to ease you into accepting your status. The word “mediocre” is from the Latin “medius” for middle (pretty obvious if you have a mediocre understanding of a language of mediocre modern value) and, more surprisingly, from the Latin “ocris,” meaning rugged mountain. And what’s cooler than a rugged mountain? A life defined by outstanding financial success and international renown, you say? Maybe. But you should be used to settling for second best by now, so rugged mountain it is.

Summary: Start focusing in the plus in the B-plus and wait for the “Everyone loves an average girl” T-shirt to appear in the window of a little place that you like to call “Urban.”

Emma Allen is more A-/B+ than B+/B.