Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mediocrity

It's quiet. The kids are either gone, sleeping, or just being quiet. Chores are done, or at least done enough, and Mitch doesn't need my help. I sit down at my computer with a list of 5 names in front of me. Five phone calls. That's all I have to make. My heart rate increases slightly. I know that calling these customers will be good for me and for them. They need to know that I care and want to follow up on promises to help. My business will grow, and I may even meet a goal. So I dial the first number. My hands shake slightly. I stumble over my words a bit, in spite of the script that I wrote and practiced. I am only talking to an answering machine. As I hang up the phone, I review my comments and shake my head. "I sound stupid." I mutter under my breath. Next name and then the next. Each call leaves me feeling more gloomy than before, now I just can't wait to be done. I'd rather be cleaning the toilet. The 5 calls takes me less than 15 min., and I only talk to one real person. I feel like a failure. Nothing sold, nothing scheduled, no one helped. Or so it seems. Will I do this again tomorrow? No way! What am I so afraid of??

A couple weeks later a bill collector started calling. Not for us, but for a relative who does not live here (and never has). I wondered how they even got our number. When they ask for the relative, "May I speak to so and so?" Mitch simply says, "No." Dumbfounded, the bill collector stumbles over his next words until the conversation ends with Mitch grinning and saying, "Have fun!" That looked like fun to me. Soon it was my turn. I knew that I should ask for our number to be removed from the list and that it should be. I also knew that if I got too excited or angry that the person would just hang up on me and call again tomorrow. The bill collector called, right in the middle of daycare. The kids were all playing nicely together. I was folding laundry, but I had to stop so that I could concentrate on what I said and how I said it. I calmly asked for our name to be removed from the list. He ignored me and continued on. Knowing that my voice was starting to sound "excited" I asked to speak to a supervisor. He gave an excuse and tried to ignore me. I insisted, now really pushing the line. I was sure he would hang up, but eventually a supervisor got on the line. Through my clinched teeth I explained that this was not so-and-so's number and never had been and that I could pick anybody's name out of the phone book to give to them without the owner's consent so what did it matter? Please stop harassing me! The kids are getting louder and I have to leave the room. My blood pressure must have shot through the roof, and my hands are shaking. Nay, my whole body is shaking. My eyes darken. Something inside me is saying this is insane! Finally she asks if this is such-and-such address. I say "No! Of course not!" She agrees to remove my number from their calling list. Relief...a little. It takes me a long, long time to calm down. How can I take care of kids like this? I am a wreck. I called Mitch to cry on his shoulder. Two weeks later I decided to call a therapist.

I love my life. I trust God that He will work everything out for good. I understand that trials will come, be they from Him or from the enemy, but that He will walk beside me and guide me when I ask. Iron sharpens iron. I do not get easily depressed. Sometimes I am quick-tempered, but I am also quick to grant grace. Mitch has learned his lessons well from the "Love and Respect" seminar, and does a good job of showing me love. My kids are healthy and beautiful, and I am so proud of them. I have a few close friends and many more wonderful acquaintances. I just can't call any of them on the phone. At least not without raising my heart rate. And reviewing my conversation both before and after the call. It took me a long time to call a therapist because I wasn't sure this was a valid reason for going to see one. I guess I thought they would turn me down too. I don't have major issues. I don't have an abusive past. I don't suppress memories. I guess maybe I am afraid of being rejected...but am I? I know that rejection is to the offer, not to me. I understand that God has never rejected me, but has accepted me and always will. I have understood that since I was very little. That's what really matters and I let it permeate my life.

I fear mediocrity. It dawned on me this morning like someone flipping the switch. I fear blending into the crowd, only being able to achieve what so many others have all ready achieved. I get jealous of other people's successes. I believe that is a sinful attitude. I wonder if a therapist will help me conquer that? I love making diapers and sharing my patterns. But what if my diapers and patterns are really no better than the hundreds of others that are out there? Will I be able to accept that and keep going? I love my other unnamed business, and I am close to promoting in the business. But will it matter? There are thousands of others who have achieved that level. Will I be able to be content with it, or will I feel the pressure to continue to scramble for a higher level where there is more recognition? My outstanding house is a cluttered mess. Will it ever be a showcase house? Why do I feel it needs to be? My daycare, as safe as it is, fails miserably when compared to many "professional" daycares out there. I will always remember the day when another daycare provider heard my plans to offer hourly drop-in care. She turned to me and commented, "That is so unprofessional." Well, I guess that's one way where I'm not mediocre. :) I compare the lives of my children to my own life as a child. In some ways my life was better (I had acres and acres of land to roam free on), but in so many other ways their lives are better (for one, I am still married to their dad, and I do not let them roam free and unsupervised as I got into lots and lots of trouble that way!). I guess it matters what your standard of comparison is. If I place my standard as Jesus Christ, where I should be, I realize I am not any better than the 12 disciples, who were arguing. In Matthew 18, they asked Jesus, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." The whole chapter is good, of course, but I risk rabbit-trailing off of my original subject. I recognize that this fear of mediocrity, this desire to rise above everyone else, has been in me at least since high school. I ruthlessly competed for the Valedictorian spot (I was Salutatorian), I determined to win a full ride scholarship to a college (which I did). Achievement has always been a goal of mine. Proverbs 11:2 says "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." I have understood the value of wisdom vs. knowledge for many years, and I thought that I desired wisdom above knowledge. :) I see that in my desire for achievement what I have really been cultivating is a prideful spirit. I need to refocus on becoming like a child. I should have plenty of children to learn from...they fill my house to the brim every day.

It still doesn't answer my question about the phone calls. It partially does. I do understand why I'm having trouble with goal-setting. I'm not setting the right goals. I think that the two are related. Mediocrity is not something to be feared. Good friends have told me "Steph, God does not give us the spirit of fear." Indeed, the only fear I need to have is the fear of the Lord. So I'd better get to practicing becoming like a little child and throw off the vain quest for recognition. The most important job I have in all of my life is sitting at my feet.

4 comments:

  1. "I don't have major issues. I don't have an abusive past. I don't suppress memories. I guess maybe I am afraid of being rejected..."


    I think there are many of us that feel this same way... I know I struggle with this on a daily basis! And unlike you I am prone to depression. With help, I've managed to get it under control, but there are still days (sometimes weeks) when that doubt and fear creeps in again. In fact, I've been struggling with feeling insignificant, and other "social" fears, a lot lately.

    Who knew we were so much alike! I was Salutatorian of my HS class... I was beat out by a guy who had better grades in me in our AP classes, and managed to push his GPA OVER a 4.0.

    Of course, in the scheme of things, it's pretty insignificant. I met my birth mom the day that I gave my Salutatorian speech... which do you think I remember now as a significant moment in my life :P

    Well, now I've said too much :) Sorry to be so long-winded!

    Love ya like a sister...
    ~kjl

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  2. Steph,

    The only way a person can get through their fear is to face it straight on. You are not comfortable making the calls but you have done it. Each time it will get easier. Even if it does not seem like it, it is. One day you will feel the level has decreased. Just keep heading it face on. You can practise more by calling your friends. :-)

    Love ya

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  3. Kristin, Here is the story about my hs experience that I love to tell: The race for Valedictorian was between my nemesis and I. We were both in AP classes, and both of us had GPA's over 4.0. I think that that is stupid, btw, because colleges always adjusted them back down. Anyways, it seems that both of us were deceived! During the 2nd 6-weeks of our senior year a "new girl" moved to town who had a waaaaaay higher GPA and blew both of us out of the water. I still beat out my "nemesis" when it was all done and over, but the "glory" of the moment was stolen by the new girl.

    Steph,
    Thanks for the encouragement. The one thing that I really, really don't understand though is it DOES NOT get easier. I have been doing this for 2 years and it gets harder every single month. It is getting harder and harder to call my friends, and I don't understand why. I used to be such an extrovert (or at least less of an introvert than I am now). So that's what really convinced me to go see a therapist. People told me to do it and get it over with and go on with my day, then I would feel better. But after making the calls my day turns steeply dark--I am probably most depressed after making those business calls. There is lots and lots of anxiety wrapped up in it. Even talking to friends on the phone can leave me afterwards reviewing the conversation and wondering if I said something wrong or if the person still likes me as well as before. *Sigh* I know it sounds irrational, but that's the best way I can describe it.

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  4. I think what I am trying to say is since I have faced the phone calls and it does not get easier, is possibly that it is not the phone calls that I fear. And I do fear mediocrity. So I'm going to have to go think about this a little bit more...

    How do you face mediocrity head on? =) LOL

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