Maybe to paint a clear picture of my present, I should offer you a snapshot of my past. You know that girl who peaked early? She’s a teenager so of course she’s the perfect blend of anorexic and athletic, but she also has impeccable taste and Daddy’s credit card transforming her into a prototype of all things trendy. A bronze tan, bouncy hair, and flawless contouring skills turn every head as she struts down the locker-lined halls of her high school. She’s killing it before she’s even aware there’s an it to be hunted, much less killed. Visualize that girl from your class. Now look behind her and maybe a little to the right. There she is: The completely mediocre looking, angsty girl with the dirty chucks and thrift store tee. Hi, you’ve found me. I have spent my entire life thriving at mediocrity. Shoutout to all the kids bringing home straight A’s but not making a top ranking in their graduating class. Shoutout to all the kids who are passionate about their extracurricular activities but are unimpressive to watch. Shoutout to all the kids who care about people but are too salty and sarcastic to be considered upstanding. Shoutout to the kids who are known and liked but are never considered popular.
Mediocrity is nothing to hate or fear. Something I’ve learned about life is even the little people have big voices. By early adulthood, I had found my volume knob and twisted to full force. I found a confidence in my interests and sense of humor that aided me in conquering my social shortcomings. Through the journey of balancing insecurities, a deeply rooted desire for control, and fearless risk-taking, I landed in my present. I spent the majority of my twenties as an energetic, adventurous clinical mental health therapist working ceaselessly for a regional community mental health agency where I love the individuals and families I serve more than I hate the paperwork. I was married with no children while both my husband and I have chosen careers completely submerged in the success of children. I’ve lived just close enough to family to remain connected while living far enough away to require the construction of a new day to day network of support (that’s harder than it sounds, and it’s not like it sounds easy). I’ve been a coffee drinking, music obsessed, wine enthusiast clinging to the idea of appearing younger than I am. I have made the lame (and let’s be honest, pathetic) joke that I’m twenty-one on every birthday since my actual twenty-first. For the sake of transparency, I’ve held onto twenty-one because of the romanticized ideal of a wide open future that exists at that place in life. I think we hold onto youthfulness due to fear of fading into a more lifeless and mediocre self with time.
Through the ups and downs of 2017, something has changed at the core of who I am. I’ve thrown myself into thirty with enthusiasm and pride. I’m a hard-working, hard-loving mommy, wife, and friend who never lets go. I am not mediocre. My story is not mediocre. The strength I call on to fight and win the battles of my life is not mediocre. As I am facing my 30th year, I have decided to give a voice to the mediocre persons with the everyday experiences, thoughts, and passions that can make a difference in the lives of others. But what does all of this have to do with painting?
My favorite color has been black for as long as I can remember. I have this quirky bit where I habitually lie about my favorite color and say it’s green then I admit it’s really yellow, but that’s only because you can’t say your favorite color is black… That’s a story for another day. My point: my favorite color is black. In my tiny house bursting at the seams with 2 adults, 3 little girls, and 1 dog, I decided I wanted to make my bedroom a reflection of the happiest version of me. I wanted to paint my bedroom black. Everyone I knew said it was a bad idea from a design perspective to a mental health perspective. One night as I lied in my bedroom in complete silence (obviously everyone else was asleep), I looked up and thought, “Just paint the room black. It’s what you do. Take the risk. Trust your gut. Paint the room black.” Paint the room black, friends. Do the little things you feel in your gut will make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Just paint the room black. There is a loud beauty within the mediocrity. Find it. Bust the speakers. Never turn it off.
Photo by Matt Warren-Photographer