Senior column: The art of mediocrity

“Mediocrity has always been my strong suit. I’ve never excelled, yet I haven’t failed. In elementary school I didn’t get picked first for dodgeball, but I wasn’t last.”(Renee Gomez)

Mediocrity has always been my strong suit. I’ve never excelled, yet I haven’t failed. In elementary school I didn’t get picked first for dodgeball, but I wasn’t last.

Averageness is the perfect disguise for any high school transfer student. I was invisible and invincible, a combination that always let me fit into the background.

Though I’d mastered the art of averageness, I was unaware of how intensely I was about to fail.

As a middle school drummer, I was fifth or sixth in a class of 12, mathematically mediocre.

However, the Marcus drumline isn’t average. They’ve won every competition, they’re the only drumline that marches and they’re the first high school group to perform at TMEA. It’s a constant uphill battle that only stops when your mom lets you quit. Mine did not.

Of course, I didn’t know those statistics. I thought that being sub-par in middle school would make me sub-par in high school. During my first rehearsal, it was apparent that I was wrong.

When I entered the auditorium, stage lights illuminated Mr. Wylie, who immediately noticed my presence. Today I know him as my percussion instructor and one of the most terrifying yet inspiring people I know. In that moment he was just terrifying.

Suddenly, he flung his arms in the air and waved them around like a plane conductor with orange glowsticks.

“Stop! Everybody stop!” he hollered while pointing to me, and I became three inches shorter.

“This is Renee, everybody say ‘Hi, Renee!’”

About 30 sweaty kids grumbled an unenthusiastic “Hi, Renee.”

This was fine with me. The less attention I got, the better. After all, my goal was mediocrity and this half-hearted “hello” fit that description perfectly.

As though he had read my mind and decided to go against it, Wylie called their attention.

“C’mon guys, you can do better than that! From the top, ‘Hi, Renee!’”

Suddenly, every eye was on me and I made around 30 enemies. I had disrupted a rehearsal that was top priority to these marching marionettes.

I was shoved behind a marimba and told to “play along” to extraordinarily fast scales, and it hit me that I had completely failed. I was drowning, and no one could offer me a life raft.

I didn’t know any scales, was barely aware of what a marimba was and shook when people talked to me.

I ordered a new uniform, T-shirts with giant “M”’s on them and uncomfortable khaki shorts. We performed every other week and I never knew what was going on. I didn’t make any friends and instead developed a lovely farmer’s tan.

When school started my luck didn’t waiver. The freshman campus was a double decker misery of identical halls and classrooms. I sat with people I vaguely remembered while cramming homework I’d neglected the night before.

However, I slowly became average again. I stayed up late to figure out how to play more than three scales. I talked to more people, raised my hand in class and said more than “I dunno” when called on. I learned names, got phone numbers and was able to play all 12 scales.

Sophomore year mediocrity was almost in sight. I played the fourth vibraphone and made non-band friends.

Then, junior year, it happened! I was average! I was the second vibe, had everyone in drumline’s number and I had the most average car made, a grey Toyota Camry. Everything was sorted out until my APUSH class.

I was a week late because of a schedule change, so the last seat available was adjacent to the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. Suddenly, I was very interested in becoming above average.

Now it’s my senior year, and after spending hours studying, performing, filling out scholarships and promposals, I’m finally above average.

I play the marimba in the Symphonic Band, am the president of a club, got accepted into UT and have been dating my girlfriend for over a year. I could’ve excelled like this for years if I’d realized that failing miserably would lead to success that put me out of mediocrity’s grasp.