I’m about to sound like a jerk and I know it, but I’m missing whatever gene makes a person beam with joy when others want to congratulate, nominate, or otherwise recognize the work someone does. I can’t stand recognition and awards. I. HATE. THEM. SO. MUCH.
Everyone seems to crave acknowledgement of their achievements, and everyone is supposed to be appreciative when someone wants to give it. I hear all the time about how great places to work always have a lot of recognition for their employees, but I think it is an empty gesture when it is not backed up with something tangible and substantially useful. No, I don’t mean some paperweight with your name on it. I mean a bonus, a salary increase, a change for the better in working conditions for all staff, a change in procedures. That’s some recognition I could get behind. Over the years I’ve received recognition awards or nominations for several things, and it always makes me want to crawl under the table and hide. In fact, when I know for sure I am going to be recognized for something at an awards ceremony, I do whatever I can to make sure I can’t be there. It is customary in my office to throw a little going away social for people when they are moving on, with cards and speeches and such. I have reminded my coworkers for years that we will not be doing that when I leave. I will pack up and move in the middle of the night with no notice if I have to.
Before you say it’s just sour grapes about my current career, let me tell you a story from way back in the stone ages…high school. I wish I could tell you what grade but I actually don’t remember things that most people consider important and my head is filled with weird minutia instead, like how my first track shoes were pink Sodapop high tops with Velcro on the top. Anyway…high school. The day came when people got invitations gleefully delivered to them in class stating their acceptance into the National Honor Society. Names were also read over the afternoon announcements. I could not have cared less about some honor society bullshit but I have lots of friends who were on the edges of their seats, waiting for their little invitations. Imagine my horror when I got one. Some of my friends didn’t. One of my best friends was crying in the middle of class because she didn’t get one. I would have loved to have given her mine because I knew how much it meant to her and I was not interested. Truthfully, she was probably more afraid of her parents being angry with her than disappointed about not getting in (THEM I can remember. They were mean to their daughters and weren’t shy about it.) but I’m sure she wanted it a little as well. She deserved it, too. She was brilliant and a great athlete and an all around good person (still is). I liked being an outsider, hanging with the stoners, and doing as little actual work as possible. I refused to take the high level math course, skipped track practice often, and only took the high level english course because liked the teacher. I did a book report on Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter – a move which these days would probably land someone in the guidance counselor’s office or getting a psych evaluation. I don’t think I took home a textbook, ever. I was just living my life, and I didn’t want accolades or expectations. So I said no thanks and people went bananas. My mother, the principal, the advisor, they were all clutching pearls at the thought of me refusing to be a part of this nonsense. And it was nonsense – they even said as much. You don’t have to actually do anything, they said, just go to the induction ceremony and be in it. What the eff for? I was going to get in to the local state college down the road with my grades (which was always my first choice because I liked hanging out in the city); it’s not like I was trying to go to Harvard. I didn’t need more things to list on my college applications. I couldn’t really explain to them why I wasn’t interested, I just knew I wasn’t, and I was mad about the exclusionary manner of so publicity choosing and announcing it to everyone. So it’s always been this way.
Cut to this past week when I get an email telling me about being nominated for some award that a committee wants to send on to one of our national organizations, and could I please send them a resume, and they are sorry it’s such a short turnaround time to ask for that. (LOL, as if I haven’t been working and re-working my resume since COVID hit.) I did reply with my resume, but I explained that it is only because they are under a time crunch and I imagine they are being expected to nominate someone. I also told them names of several other people that would be more appropriate and appreciative of the nomination if they had the time to change it. I was thanked and told that it was going to be me. That shouldn’t make me feel stabby, but it does. If you’ve ever gone to a national conference, you know how many award luncheons and miscellaneous recognition events there are. You most likely have not been to any of them because they are costly and it’s usually the upper-level bigwigs having social time. I feel like these organizations should be spending their time and money and energy not on recognition but on changing the profession for the better, bringing it into the present, being an advocate for their members. Real change, not a plaque.
I’m a jerk, right? I just want to do my work so I get a paycheck, and live my life. If you are in a recognition role, please remember that some of us hate it, and would rather give you suggestions on who really, really wants and needs that stuff to keep them going. It ain’t me. I’m not your gal.