Ruth Ostrow is OK with OK. Bernard Salt’s Suburban Story.
Making my New Year’s resolution, I suddenly heard myself say: “I will be OK with OK.” It came into my head before I even had a chance to analyse why I said it.
But slowly I understood. We have a prejudice against “OK”. OK is not good enough. It’s all right but not great. The answer to “I’m OK thanks” is often “Just OK?”
“OK” is six out of 10, between “so-so” (or could be better) at five and “good” at seven. So we’re not happy with it. Taught to be aspirational and pleasure-seeking, taught to seek the best partner, the greatest job, the best looks, wealth and the Happy Ever After in this capitalist reality, having an OK life just doesn’t cut the mustard.
To be OK looking, reasonably talented, have an OK partner and “doing all right” at work is never good enough, with everyone in a constant state of FOMO (fear of missing out) and comparison — “He is better than me” … “She is worse”.
Yes, there are a contented few, but I recently did a workshop about self-esteem and it alarmed me the number of people in the room who were disappointed in themselves, their partners or their lives. Many lamented they were just OK. Nothing special. Could do better, be better, have more.
This made them sad, feeling like failures, insecure, always questioning themselves and engaging in negative self-talk. Too many were riddled with the notion “I am inadequate” or “my partner is inadequate”.
The irony was that most of the people in the workshop were professionals, high-achievers or talented. Several kept families together and worked through the normal array of relationship difficulties. But the fact everything was OK wasn’t enough. They were ashamed they weren’t more.
A degree of being aspirational is a fantastic thing. But chronic, invisible perfectionism corrodes the soul. Peace can be found only in letting life be good enough. Because really there are better things to do with one’s time than striving/yearning for more than a body or relationship can bear.
My favourite saying — having witnessed so many crash ’n’ burns as a finance journalist, and the fiasco of Lance Armstrong — is: “What drives you can drive you over the edge.” And we forget life is short.
So I will “be OK with OK”. I’ll give myself permission to let it be good enough. To settle into a reasonable place, and not make myself and everyone else miserable by wishing it better or different. It’s about acceptance that being OK is fine.
Let’s let it be OK. Leave it alone, accept it. OK is not the lazy, bovine enemy of happiness. It’s the wise best friend.