I had a conversation with a guy a long time ago. I don’t remember who his name or what we were talking about, but I remember I said something that made the guy chuckle, and he said, “You’re cool.” But he didn’t say it like it was a compliment. He said it like he was making a decision… like he was bestowing a title on me. Like I wasn’t cool until he said so. I was a little offended by that, because I knew I was cool regardless of whether or not he or anyone else thought so.
Understanding you’re valuable regardless of what anyone else thinks is a vital life lesson for everyone to learn. That’s why it pisses me off that our society has a tool that teaches people their value is validated and measured by external sources like ribbons, certificates and trophies.
Isn’t that pretty much what an award does? It says, “I deem you worthy.” I deem you the best, the second-best, third-best, or I deem you’re not worth mentioning. Sure, I’m being a little hyperbolic; awards have their place, but honestly, human beings do have a tendency to take them way too seriously. People have walls in their houses dedicated to their trophies because they believe on some level that their inherent value is reflected on that wall. That’s why people cry when they lose a contest. That’s why parents push their children to the breaking point to win competitions. Emilio Estevez’s character on “The Breakfast Club” was based on real people.
If your kid wins an award and you make a huge deal about congratulating him but you don’t make it a point to teach him that he’s valuable without the award then you’re effectively teaching him that he needs external approval to validate his internal worth, and that’s crippling.
I lose respect for adults if I see that they still have a wall full of trophies they won during childhood. Nobody needs that. If they’re so proud of themself for having those trophies I have to wonder if they’d still be proud of their self without the trophies. When I get an award I throw it away the first moment nobody is looking, and I think that’s healthy.
Having said that, I hereby award you the world champion ass-kicking award. Your certificate reads as follows: “I (insert name here) don’t need your fucking award to tell me I kick ass. It goes without saying.”
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