In Zone One, Mark Spitz deals with a feeling of mediocrity throughout his childhood and adult life. He describes himself as a B-student, always meeting just the minimum to scoot by without worry of failure or high expectations for above-average achievement, “He was not made team captain, nor was he the last one picked. He sidestepped detention and honor rolls with equal aplomb.” (Whitehead, 11) Although Mark Spitz describes himself as mediocre, we can see through his talent at demolishing the plagued zombies of this new world that he isn’t as mediocre as he likes to believe. The other day I came across a piece of information discussing what is called the “imposter syndrome” and I immediately thought of Mark Spitz.
Imposter Syndrome is characterized as the inability to recognize or acknowledge personal success or achievements, often times attributing them to luck or claiming that it could have been better. In our society there is an immense pressure to succeed, to be the best, to come out on top. We are being trained to be perfectionists, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as we know that perfection isn’t always possible. I relate this to Mark Spitz because he attributes his survival to luck or having the limited knowledge of just knowing how to survive. As students, I also found this relevant because we are constantly being pushed to do our best, and we should be, but at the same time this feeling of failure discounts any work that isn’t “top notch”.