Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Lesson Learned

In late May, I got an email from the Alabama Writers' Conclave's review board that my short story "The Ghost" had won an award in their annual writing contest. Each category (mine was entered in short fiction) would have 4 honorable mentions plus 1st-4th awards and money prizes. The email did not say if I'd only gotten honorable mention or if I had placed, so I wasn't going to go to the program in case I didn't win anything.

Then, I got to looking at their conference programme, and one of my favorite authors was going to be a guest lecturer. I decided I would go. As it turned out, almost all of the guest lecturers were outstanding, and I really learned a lot that I can use in my own writing. However, what I really wanted to know was about my award.

The banquet and awards ceremony was Saturday night. We had a nice meal, a reading by a well-known author, and then the awards. My category was announced in the middle of the ceremony, and as the announcer started going through the list of honorable mentions, I just prayed that I had placed instead. As it turned out, I did. I got fourth place. My feelings? Believe it or not, disappointment. But why? Why should I feel disappointed when I got what I asked for? Well, the answer is simple, yet complex.

You see, I am a perfectionist, and I want to be the best at whatever I do. I want to win. I should be used to not winning, though, because most of the time, I don't. However, I always do well in my endeavors...just not as well as I'd like. I don't let it bother me after the initial disappointment. I just go find something else at which I think I can excel.

The problem, though, is why can't I let my accomplishments be good enough and stand for themselves? I later found out that there were somewhere between 50-75 entries in the Short Fiction category, so to finish 4th the first time I even entered their contest was actually pretty darn good. And, as my daughter pointed out to me, some of the people who entered pieces, and certainly those in attendance at the conference, have much more time available for their writing. Now, I am happy with my award, but not at first... no, not at first.

The lesson I should learn here is that, at some point, I am going to have to learn to be satisfied, happy, and proud of what I've done instead of feeling disappointed or go on looking for the next thing. I need to realize that I AM GOOD ENOUGH! Yet, I am not the only one who needs to come to terms this lesson. Apparently, there are a whole bunch of us "A" types out there who just cannot accept 2nd place. It's too bad really, but there it is.

I don't have any great epiphany here, but I do know that we all need to lighten up on ourselves and rejoice in our accomplishments and good qualities. We need to nicer to ourselves, and we need to learn that we are good enough, most of the time, just the way we are.