There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about participation trophies. Are they good for a kid’s confidence? Do they turn kids into entitled monsters? I have no idea. As adults, a lot of us accept participation trophies with honor and pride. Every medal I possess simply says finisher. Tough Mudder participants proudly wear “Finisher” t-shirts. Is it different for adults than it is for kids? Again, I don’t know. I do know, some of my participation trophies represent some of my finest achievements, sad as that may be. Speaking of participation trophies, in a few days I will be receiving another one. This one isn’t usually in the form of a medal. It usually comes in the form of a card, a check, a cake or a trip the Outback Steakhouse. I will be receiving recognition for my participation as a living human, it’s called my birthday. Hooray for me, I was born. Before I get hammered I do believe some birthdays should be celebrated; 1-13 (because you’re a kid), 16 (driving), 18 (military), 21 (legal beer) and 100 (because you’re freaking 100 years old). So, what then what should we celebrate every year if not ourselves for joining the human population? How about your accomplishments?
Before I start, let me explain this is not my original idea. I am stealing the idea itself from my favorite podcaster. I just want to introduce it to you with my spin on it. Every year there is a day set aside to celebrate each of us. One day (unless you are my wife and you get a week) every year that is about us. What is wrong with that you ask? Nothing, I respond. But, how about we celebrate ourselves for something other than putting our mothers through hours of pain and misery. How about us celebrating something that has defined us, proven our drive, or shown grit and determination. Imagine you just sat down for a 9-ounce sirloin at the Outback and the waitress asks if you are celebrating anything special. You respond with pride, “yes”. You tell the waitress that, two years ago today you started your own business, ran your first ultra-marathon, kicked cancer’s ass, or graduated college. Now compare that to, “are you celebrating anything special?” “Why yes I am, 37 years ago today I showed up.”
I believe all of us have accomplished something we are proud of and we should celebrate that. I just don’t think that when ultra-runner Scott Jurek is asked about his life he goes on for hours about October 26, 1973. I believe he may speak a little about winning the Hardrock 100, going back to back in the Badwater 135, or winning the Western Sates 100 multiple times. All of us have a Hardrock 100 in our lives. We all have an “Accomplishment Day”. The great thing about celebrating accomplishments, is you can one up yourself. After you pick your biggest accomplishment your new job is to beat it, and when you do you now have a different day to celebrate every year. Celebrate your life, not the mere fact you are living.
P.S. Mom and Dad, I’m still going to cash my birthday check!