King David asked G‑d why He created insanity. What purpose does it serve in this world?

I had an encounter with a woman, a brilliant and talented woman, who unfortunately went through some extremely challenging things in her life that left her in a very sad state, mentally and emotionally. She lived in the Chabad center where I worked, but we rarely ever saw her, save for the few times a day when she came outside for a smoke, wearing dirty pajamas andShe had a reputation for being scared of people mumbling to herself. She had a reputation for being scared of people, but to be honest, I and all the other girls who worked there were a bit frightened of her.

We happened to cross paths one day, so, feeling sorry for her, I stopped to chat. I guess she was experiencing a brief moment of sanity, because she agreed to talk to me, and not to herself for a change. It is tragic to see a human being left with no real life and no dignity, but I could tell from our short conversation that there was still some vestige of that brilliance, poise and eloquence that she once had, which made her current state even more tragic.

“So,” I said, wondering how someone with so much could have fallen so low, “what did you study?”

“I was a graphic designer, a mediocre one though.” (I later learned that she had been far from mediocre.)

“Don’t worry,” I said, attempting to sympathize with her. “I am a teacher, and probably a mediocre one too.”

Then she looked at me, really deeply. “A teacher . . . a mediocre teacher. How can you be just mediocre? You are working with children. You are, without knowing it, changing their lives. You can’t be mediocre.”

Here I was, talking to this woman with long, unkempt hair that looked like a mane, who as far as we knew owned no clothes except for pajamas, whose hands were stained yellow from the cigarettes she chain-smoked. But she was looking at me with such honesty and such conviction, telling me that if you’re changing lives, you can’t be mediocre.If you’re changing lives, you can’t be mediocre

There are times in life when we like to call ourselves mediocre. We don’t believe in ourselves as much as we should, and we are too afraid of our failings to call ourselves excellent. I’m not saying we should be egotistical. But sometimes, we need to look at ourselves and our work, and realize there is no room to view it as mediocre. What we are doing as women, as mothers, as teachers, is just too precious to be given that label. It’s impossible to be perfect. But are we giving ourselves enough credit?

This woman taught me that how we perceive something is how it will be, and sometimes we have a responsibility that is just too great to be called mediocre.