As part of my general cleaning/decluttering work, I’ve come across my old school awards. When I got them, they were really important, you know? I was so proud- I had worked hard and someone was acknowledging my efforts with a tangible item! Even better, I was a kid before they started rewarding everyone, so I was really being called out as a high performer. It meant something.
I lived for that validation, for that praise. My whole worth as a person was riding on my ability to perform well. I NEEDED to be recognized. I needed to succeed. I needed my goals to be meaningful. These little plaques were part of the proof that I was worth while- that I should even exist.
I wonder if that sounds crazy. To be so desperate for something so small, but I think it’s pretty common. Is there anyone who doesn’t seek something small to make them feel better- kind words from a specific person, a particular possession, a full social life, or something else? Don’t we all turn outside of ourselves to find meaning or value?
So, what do I do with them now? Ribbons and plaques that testify to my success? Are they really any different from my diploma or my bachelor’s degree? Those don’t affect my daily life either. Are my childhood award worth less simply because there’s not a recognized standard? Is being the lead actress in a local play insignificant simply because it isn’t Broadway?
Do small things matter?
Do normal people doing normal things matter?
Or are we fooling ourselves just to feel better?