Schools appropriately recognize individuals for standing head and shoulders above their classmates at various award ceremonies throughout the year. Unfortunately, many students have internalized that if they are unable to achieve at an elite level, they must be disappointments to the community and unworthy of recognition. Fear of letting people down brings stress and anxiety into students’ lives because they feel the world is demanding that they achieve things beyond their capability. This is an opportunity to fix this misunderstanding.
Every individual has unique gifts that must be encouraged and celebrated by their community. Students don’t need a plaque, trophy, or certificate to be acknowledged for their talents, but they do require support and encouragement from peers, teachers, and parents to cultivate their passions, to mature their unique abilities, and to shine their light on the world. While walking in front of a crowd to receive an award is meaningful, being appreciated for who you are by the people closest to you is the most precious gift a person can receive.
Technology is causing life to speed up and our focus to rarely look more than a few days into the future. We seek the instant gratification of a handful of likes on our social media accounts, but the satisfaction is fleeting, and the thirst for contentment returns quickly. We must take time to step back periodically and reflect upon what we’re doing. It doesn’t take long to remember that sustained happiness comes from a deeper connection to yourself and the people in your life than the Internet can provide. We must sit face to face and have meaningful heartfelt conversations about the challenges in our lives. We must help one another put our daily struggles into context so we don’t overreact to minor disappointments. We must take time to share the simple joys that we experience every day. While these conversations may feel like obstacles to the completion of your daily tasks, they are actually the foundation for lasting relationships that will support you throughout your life and be valued far more than any trophy.
Life is long and will be full of ups and downs. Success is not the product of perfectly executing every task set in front of you, as this is impossible. Instead, success demands courage and commitment to your goals and dreams even after you’ve been knocked down a hundred times. Milestones like getting your driver’s license, getting accepted into college, building a successful career, and starting a family will automatically arrive in your life at the appropriate time if you remember to develop and nurture high quality relationships along the way because those people will keep picking you up and inspiring you to keep going. We don’t want you to measure your value by the accomplishments you can write on a piece of paper, but by the positive impact you have on the people in your life. If you’re able to focus on these goals, regardless of the outcomes, you are a success in our eyes.