My ten-year-old son Alex decided to run for President of his elementary school’s student council. I was a little worried because Alex is tender-hearted, and I didn’t want him to feel sad if he lost. But he seemed determined, so we made posters, and he wrote a speech. His platform was all about kindness being the most important thing. We talked about how it didn’t matter if he won or lost, we were proud of his willingness to try.
One day though, Alex came out of school crying. Someone had defaced one of the posters with his picture on it. Of course, I flew into mama bear mode and marched into the school office to deal with it. Thankfully, the administration and teachers were already on the case, and the principal talked to Alex about moving forward even if another person acted cruelly. We told him he hadn’t done anything to cause the situation and encouraged him to continue his presidential run. Fortunately, he received an apology from the student who’d made the bad choice. After all of that, we were especially proud when he persevered and gave his speech to the students in fourth and fifth grade. He had to wait another day to find out the results. We reminded him that he’d done the best he could and that his effort was the most important part of the process. He’d put himself out there and had done a great job.
On the same day that Alex gave his speech, I was racking my brain for a writing idea. When writers can’t come up with ideas, we tend to descend into doom and gloom fairly quickly. I began to wonder if my blogging was a fruitless endeavor. Had I been wasting my time for the last three years? Was I wrong to think that God had called me to write in this manner? And that was when it occurred to me. I’d told Alex that effort was what mattered most, but I didn’t apply the same standard to myself.
As adults we don’t give ourselves credit for our dedication, commitment, discipline, or hard work unless we see positive results. If we aren’t successful by the world’s criteria, we consider ourselves failures. Recently, a couple of friends and I were talking about a viral video, and one friend mentioned that the last time she’d checked, a site must have 100,000 followers to monetize. If that’s the mark of success, I’m far from it. But if I celebrate my effort, then maybe I can at least pat myself on the back.
The day I started writing this piece, we still didn’t know if Alex had won the election. He came out of school and told us we would receive an email with the results later in the afternoon. But before and after school, we reminded him that we were proud of him, win or lose. And that was the truth. I was so impressed that he’d taken a chance and followed through on it. So, when Alex found out he’d won the election for Student Council President, we were delighted because he was so excited. But our pride had been present the whole time. Perhaps we can remember that the next time we feel like we’re not measuring up. We can choose to be proud of our efforts, win or lose.