you tried

There wasn’t going to be a post today on account of some bad planning and musical binge-watching, but my district has unexpectedly been blessed by the snow gods and school is cancelled tomorrow.

This extra day is very much appreciated, because I need to recuperate from Saturday. Saturday was 17 hours of crazy.

My team attended this dance competition an hour’s drive away. It was a relatively large event with a lot of entries, and all our dances—solos, duets, trios, team—were spaced out evenly. Because the whole team has to be present for every entry from our school, we had a lot of breaks that were long enough to be excruciatingly boring but not long enough to actually do anything. But I did try.

Teammate: *incredulously* You brought homework to do?

Me: Please let me live my life.

Teammate: You’re lame. *walks off*

Me: Is that not common knowledge? I thought that was common knowledge.

But the competition itself isn’t really what I wanted to talk about, which may understandably confuse you seeing as we’re halfway into this entry and I have yet to actually make my point. It’s what happened after.

By the time we filed into the host school’s gym for awards, I was dead on my feet. Too tired to move. Too tired to talk. Too tired to even care when multiple people pointed out my hair was sticking out in seven different directions.

I glanced toward the front and immediately began to shed tears of anguish upon sight of—I kid you not—at least a hundred colossal plastic trophies and plaques. Because that can only mean one thing.

PARTICIPATION AWARDS.

I understand that people want to reward effort. They want to encourage self-esteem, to provide motivation to “work harder next time,” by doling out awards to prevent some participants from being entirely disappointed.

I can’t think of anyone who hates winning, but I also can’t think of anyone who actually values participation awards, especially when they’re being handed out like candy at Halloween—in handfuls accompanied by the standard “thanks for coming” smile.

You increase the supply of something, and it decreases in value. You want to reward children for trying, but most of us feel no real reward.

Announcer: The Elite Team award! The Grand Champion Team Award! The Winner’s Circle Award! Elite Showcase Award! Sportsmanship Award! Best Teeth Award! Best-at-Peeling-Oranges Award! Best-at-Being-Here Award!

Me: What an impressive litany of ways to say “you all win.”

Announcer: And now the Social Media award! And now the Team with the Highest GPA Award!

Me: *lightly sobbing* This doesn’t even have anything to do with dance??

1 Hour Later

Teammate: Oh wait, I think that was us. What award was that?

Me: The Last Award?

Teammate: We can only hope.


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