Do you remember when you’d get an answer right in school and your teacher would praise you? Or when you did well on a test and you’d get a gold star next to your 100% score with a smiley face?
Those gold stars ruined me.
I find that I do things for the wrong reasons sometimes. Like I just want someone to give me a little recognition, a little praise, and maybe even a gold star. I don’t know if it’s because I worked very hard to be a teacher’s pet my entire school career, and was one of those “I’ll be involved in everything” kids just because I wanted people to know who I was, but I seriously always think about what other people think of me.
Which makes me SUPER annoyed with myself.
What does this have to do with writing? I feel like publication is the ultimate gold star; only this time it feels as far away as the REAL stars that I assume still twinkle every night (have you ever looked in the sky at night in the city? Stars are not visible. I have faith they’re still there.)Yes, I write because I love it. But I edit, and revise, and re-write and query, and critique because I want that gold star. I want to hold my book in my hands one day. I want to see it on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. And I want people to like what I write.
But will that validate my aspirations? Will that solidify my career as an author? Will that justify the amount of time I spend now toiling and crying and feeling rejection after rejection just to pick myself back up and do it all over again? Will it make me happy?
Ultimately, probably not.
But I do think it’d be fun.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking more and more about what validates our lives. A lot of people need the big career, the loads of money and the huge house to feel like they’re a valuable asset to society. Other people need friends and parties and a phone that rings off the hook to know that they’re wanted. And some of us think about our facebook status updates FAR too much before posting them, and maybe checks to see what people have said FAR too many times immediately after posting them…Ahem. But at the end of the day we all want to be heard. We all want to feel like we’re making a difference. We all like a little recognition.
I’m reminded of Dr. Cox, one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite TV shows of all time; Scrubs. In one episode he’s on a diagnosing roll and he forces people to chant his name before he leaves their presence. His exact words are:
“Not until people start chanting my name so that I can exit the room with my hands held high above my head in a victorious gesture…You see, this diagnosing machine, this fabulous thing? Well, it runs on props, so I'm going to need to hear it. Come now.”
I think we all like to hear our name chanted sometimes. In high school, my group of friends started a thing where we’d see someone in the hall, say their full name and applause, for no reason. EVERY time that person smiled, blushed, and even sometimes bowed. Try it. Get three people to say your name and clap for you. You’ll immediately feel better. Promise.
So I guess the point to all this rambling is, while everyone likes a little recognition, it shouldn’t be the driving force behind what we do. I didn’t teach my little girl the alphabet so I could show her off to my friends. I did it so she could read. (If you’re my facebook friend, you’ll remember my status update…I agonized over that one…”how do I say this without sounding like an overly proud crazy mom?” )
And I’m tired of being annoyed with myself. I’m tired of worrying about what people think. I’m tired of not feeling like a valid human being without the whole world wide web praising my every step. That will never happen. (And quite frankly, it’d be freaky if it did). So I’m setting a goal for myself to be happy with – and for – myself. It’s not easy. But life stopped handing me gold stars a long time ago.
It’s time to make my own.