There aren’t awards for people like us.
Intuitives. Observers. Listeners. Thoughtful ones.
The world rarely rewards or give praise to people who see small details. Nuances. People who notice the sad person at the party.
We encourage. We exhort. We blend in.
The world wants shiny.
Fast. Faster. Fastest.
Strong. Stronger. Strongest.
Don’t get me wrong. I too am drawn to sparkly things that catch my eye in the sun, elite athletes and attractive, beautiful things. As a kid, I admired the popular kids. The way they moved seamlessly in crowds, the way they could talk to anyone, the way they were effortlessly interesting. The way they showed who they were without telling us everything. The way they did all the things we’d expect them to do – dance well, act well, dress well, behave well.
Trust me, I played the game.
The world gives awards for all kinds of things and when they are out of rings, ribbons and medals, they’ll give you a certificate so you don’t feel bad about yourself.
Participant, they’ll say.
Thanks for coming out, it reads.
But there aren’t any awards for the kids who spend the summer in their rooms curled up with a stack of books or the ones who are distracted because they are doodling masterpieces in the margins of their notebooks during class.
See, no one is going to give me a medal for setting limits for myself in a workout – for knowing what I can and cannot do. No, the medals go to those who throw down and push as far as they can – and I’ve got plenty of those in a box in the garage. No one will hand me a plaque for telling the eight year-old street vendor in Mexico that I don’t want an ankle bracelet so that I can “be more sexy” because things like kindness, intelligence, courage and faith are more important to me than being sexy. Nobody will announce my name from a podium because of the hope I have for that kid to be different than every other man in his family. No silver or gold medal around my neck for spending the past several nights since I met him praying that his life is different.
That kid waved me off and laughed at my suggestions as he looked for the next table of ladies to give his pitch “Want to see my secret weapon bracelet?” he says with a wink.
I’ve never gotten prize money because I can feel, actually feel in my whole body, when someone is hurting or hiding or just getting by. No one cares about that cute waitress because, she’s cute and dressed well and so therefore she’s fine. But I know better because I can sense that maybe she needs a few extra bucks added to the tip. I don’t know her struggle, but it’s there because I hear more than the words she speaks. No one saw the homeless man listening to his radio at the entrance of a restaurant while he lit up a pipe full of who knows what – but I knew he needed some food and so I brought him some even if he was high. Because that’s not my call and I’m not looking for praise or for your confirmation.
His name was Jim and he had excellent manners. “Thank you, Priscilla” he said when I told him my name (he asked) “and God bless.”
I spent most of my life winning awards to meet the world’s standards and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But now that I am unable to do physically what I could do in my youth, I see how fickle and focused the world can be about their prizes. Everyone clamoring for a place on the podium. The red carpet. The stage.
I just want people to know. Prize or no prize. Medal or no medal. Podium or no podium.
We’re all pretty amazing just as we are. Even if we don’t cause one single ripple in the pond, we’re all part of a bigger picture.
We all play a part.
I am way more than a box of trophy’s and plaques collecting dust in the garage. I’m a testimony. I’m an example. I’m a story.
We all are.