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A Culture of Mediocrity
Introduction-The "Weekly Vacation"
What began as ideals aimed towards the achievement of the "American Dream" has slowly, popularly reversed itself.
It has become apparent to me that I belong to a mainstream culture and mainstream generation who have lost the ability to aspire. I must first and foremostly admit that it is with tremendous regret and reluctance that I utter such a statement.
After all, I claim to have faith in my own generation as much as the next hopeful 21 year old. And perhaps I may be entitled to claim ignorance. Such is certainly a more optimistic scenario. Maybe I have enclosed myself among a group of peers, co-workers, friends and others who may be considered within the larger scope of our generation as an anomaly, albeit a rather decisively-sized one. What do I mean, then, when I claim our generation to be subjected to and accepting of mediocrity? How can I justify as bold a statement of that? The answer to that lies within the amount of priority and precedence our generation has placed upon our weekly vacation-the weekend.
The Weekend Warrior
By my extensively pondered account we (our generation) have become the "weekend warrior," looking forward above all other things our Friday after work (or school) and the ever-blessed, ever-anticipated Saturday. It has become normal, ritualized even, to ingest drugs, party, engage in extreme recklessness and care-free abandon, and in some instances, subject oneself to events and actions that go as far as to jeopardize one's accumulation of lifetime achievements and his/her future of achievements.
It has become a progressively increasing contest, each week, to engage in as much fun as possible for two days and nights before waking up on Sunday, half dazed and sullenly realizing the new week of work is upon you. Let me be clear. I am not saying that performing care-free acts on Friday and Saturday are something to neglect or to even miss out on. In fact, they are necessary. But when did these two days of the week become SO important that we neglect other things, priorities, which OUGHT to be much more important than uselessly and recklessly enjoying oneself? Should the goal of one's life be to attempt to establish as large an accumulation of these half-forgotten, blurry, meaningless, and insignificant memories as possible before death? Is this truly the legacy that one hopes to leave behind with pride after they pass? We have become so absentmindedly obsessed with this "break" from work that it HAS become our new priority in life; More so, for many people, than a TRUE, MEANINGFUL prerogative in life that they have neglected to establish.
Being a "weekend warrior" is simply a term for those who have, thus far, been inept at deciding their ultimate life path and goals. They are those who are aimlessly wandering around, possibly even within a place capable of helping them potentiate him/herself (a four year university). But they do not care about this nor recognize the potential of the environment they are in and the ability the environment has to transform them. They do not care about the potential they have themselves if applied within a certain area. They do not care because these lingering, annoying, pestering thoughts and reminders and urges will not matter in five more days when the weekend hits. I have realized-it is a sad and self-perpetuating cycle, one that cannot easily be undone or "shaken" out of. I have seen it [this cycle] take promising young men and transform them into dull, uninteresting, skill-less, day-to day "weekend warriors," motivated only to continue on and reach the end of Friday- the point when they can FINALLY allow themselves to engage in absolute careless and reckless freedom from a life filled with ordinary, pointless and mundane activities and work.
Mediocrity as a Goal
It does not have to be this way, I argue. And it should not have to be this way. We are a new generation that I believe has taken on older generation's habits. These "weekend warriors" end up within the same category of life, unfortunately. They end up among those who seek to achieve nothing more than mediocrity and "enough," as I have heard SO many times my peers say, "to live on." This "enough," they argue, is a modest amount. Something even I once remember admitting to a friend: "I'll be happy with $100,000 a year." This "goal," as they choose to view it, is nothing more than an attempt to live life in the way that they have imagined it for so many years; The way in which American society and yes, our culture, our education system, our parents, shaped it for us. I struggle with this horrific truth because I was once a part of it. I was once implicitly brainwashed to accept things as the way they were, to allow life to continue without much interference in it's course, and to allow any opportunity for greatness slowly slip away while my attention stood fixated upon an exciting event taking place the upcoming weekend. It is easy to relax and to allow this goal we (sort of) have, our preconceived notion of "success," to wash over us, if we are "working" toward it (absentmindedly and passionlessly completing the requirements set forth before us by others), like a reassuring and relaxing hot shower after a cold and stressful day.
I, for one, prefer cold showers.
Reversing the Trend
For most of us, I argue, this feeling of acceptance and of assurance we get when aiming for a "decent" job worth $100,000 a year, a spouse, middle-class home and family, because it feels "right," and it comes easy enough, without any REAL effort, it is sickening and frustrating. You don't meet many people with goals of extraordinary ascension in life. When you do, though, when you TRULY do, not just someone who dreams hopefully and naively that circumstances will fall upon their lap, you know they are different from a "weekend warrior." You know this because they display their true priorities in life upon their sleeve and wear these goals upon their chest like a shiny badge of preconceived success. Because nothing else except their passion and priority matters to them, and they will stop at nothing to achieve this greatness, whatever it may be. You know this because of the manner in which they speak and conduct themselves; these people don't relate to meaningless fragments of useless and temporary period of "fun." To them, there are much better things to relate to and much better things to talk about. To be clear, I am not saying they must not enjoy themselves on the weekend. But NEVER do they allow this enjoyment to come anywhere close to compromising their extraordinary, personalized goals. To them this weekend enjoyment-fleeting and meaningless in nature-does not consume their everyday thoughts and day dreams. They do not look forward to the weekend ABOVE their every day lives because for them, the most fulfilling parts of their lives are the days they get to improve themselves and further prepare to become whatever they hope to become-their fully realized selves wasting not a drop of natural-given potential or intrinsic motivation or drive. We must ask ourselves, if we are to change, what truly our priorities in life are. We must ask ourselves if "enjoying" the weekend above all else-including all other useful priorities of self-improvement and self-realization, is truly-in the long run, our most highly preferred way to spend our most valuable years of youth. We must seek to reverse this trend-that which implies a notion of mediocrity and acceptance of it.
The Life Warrior
It is easy to put aside our work and extend our efforts only to enjoyable parts of life. But these enjoyable parts of life-when not mediated, limited, and viewed in the appropriate manner, come at a substantial cost to our future and our significance as an individual in the scope of history and in the context of others. I ask us, then, our generation, to put aside our preconceived notions of the "weekend warrior" as the most acceptable way of engaging in life. And I ask us to then look upon ourselves and to judge ourselves thoroughly in order to find out what fits us best, as individuals. In what area of life, with what passion, can I become most influential and recognized and beneficial to others with? We must recognize this, and focus on it. We must change our lifestyle in order to fit this newly conceived perception of oneself so that one can WORK to achieve that which suits one best and that this hidden passion, uncovered after careful self-examination, serves to inspire one to work at it and perfect it with more enjoyment than one has even on, dare I say it, the blessed weekend. In this they shed their dreadful and pointless fixation with their image and enactment of the "weekend warrior" and become a "life warrior." They become a champion of the self, one who recognizes he/she is special and that they, along with everyone else, deserve to exert their full efforts (as much or more as they were previously exerting on the weekends) into the perfection of themSELF. It is every weekend that defines us, every experience we have or do not have. We must remember that every week wasted is a week we further ALLOW ourselves to think that it is OK to be mediocre and that aiming simply for a "decent" job and house and spouse is appropriate. It is another week LESS, then, to begin working upon a newly conceived notion that one might discover after reading this post. This is a realization and a notion that I regret to have only realized only recently, and one, looking back upon, that could have further aided my ascension in life had I realized it sooner. We are all capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to think-and it begins with chasing down goals set aside for us by our culture and environment. I ask this-to set aside OUR OWN goals, personalized, based upon our interests and strengths and most importantly, our passions. For being a "weekend warrior," as our culture has so popularly deferred to, is only a substituted passion for one that has yet to be discovered and culminated within the hidden depths and inner dreams of oneself.