In Defense of Pretty OK

Relationship Design, Simplicity

Editor’s Note: This post is written by Kathleen Quiring of Project M. Today we’re doing a post exchange based on a rant she went on a couple of weeks ago. This is her response to something I wrote. To read my response to what she wrote, go here – A Manifesto for Pretty Okay Sucks.
In my niche of the blogosphere, where we talk about life and relationships and marriage in particular, there’s a lot of attention devoted to “how to be more awesome.” A lot of blogs offer advice on how to get along better and resolve conflict and have better sex and take it to the next level.
On a daily basis, I’m being instructed on how to improve my marriage and myself: how to become bigger, better, more productive, more successful, et cetera. I’m being encouraged to strive for an awesome marriage, a fantastic marriage, a superb, splendid, excellent, wildly successful marriage.
I sometimes find myself a little paralyzed by all the awesomeness to be achieved.
I know what these folks are trying to do: they are trying to encourage us to pause and think seriously about our relationships, and to get out of any ruts we may have fallen into which may be impeding our ability to “live life to its fullest.”
But sometimes, for some of us, “life to its fullest” would mean a little less pressure to be so friggin’ awesome.
I sometimes wonder if, for every person out there who needs to be told they can and should strive for better, another person out there needs to be told to stop striving so hard. For every person out there who needs a swift kick in the butt to get them moving in the right direction, another person is kicking herself into exhaustion. She needs to be told to chillax.
This other person, I think, sometimes needs to be told that it’s OK to just be OK. That person needs to be told that she should take a vacation, or at the very least take a long, hot bath, take a nap, and then stop trying to hard, because she’s going to try herself into a coma.
For some of us, all this talk of “improving ourselves,” “achieving more,” and “getting more out of life” can be crippling. All we can think about is how inadequate we feel and how far from perfection we are.
See, some of us have trouble distinguishing “excellent” or “extraordinary” from “perfect.”  For some of us, when people say, “You can do better,” all we hear is, “You’re not good enough.” For some of us, when people say “A good marriage is the enemy of a great marriage,” all we hear is “You are falling short. You and your marriage are so far from great that you should consider throwing yourself into a lake of angry stingrays and ending this ridiculous sham of a life before you spread your infectious mediocrity to the rest of us who still have a chance.”
Some of us wake up every morning pinned down to the bed with the weight of our own sense of inadequacy, and the last thing we need to hear is that we ought to be striving for better. We have a hard time focusing on the possibility of improvement because we’re unable to get past our sense of not being enough.
For those of you who are like this, I have this to say:
You are doing fine. Sometimes an OK marriage is good enough. You don’t have to be a marriage superstar. Today, you’re allowed to be just “pretty OK.”
There are no Awesomeness Police waiting for you at the end of the day to tackle you to the ground if you don’t achieve All-Around-Awesomeness in every department of your life. At the end of your earthly life, I highly doubt God is going to look over your Life Resume and criticize you for failing to be stupendous, extraordinary, super-fantastic in all you did.
You don’t have to be awesome all the time.
Some mornings, you’re going to have to be ready to settle for “just OK.” Otherwise you won’t be able to get out of bed and live your life. You’re not being lazy or good-for-nothing; you’re just being realistic. Sometimes, I think it’s OK if you just strive for satisfactory.
Then, after a certain number of mornings like this, maybe you’ll be able to start thinking about extraordinary. Eventually. But you don’t have to today.
I want you to know that sometimes in life, all you’re going to be able to achieve is “decent,” and that’s pretty darn OK.
Personally, I don’t want to have to be extraordinary. I want to know that the universe won’t implode if I end up with just a “pretty OK” marriage.
Maybe you feel like this too.
If so, I want to give you permission to just strive for satisfactory. Just be OK. I tried this a few weeks ago and I think I’m on my way to being all right!

Photo courtesy Adam Pniak