photo by // Jenny Lane Studios
A few years back, my fiancé Dan and I were moving into our first place together. He was helping me move all my boxes of stuff and said to me, “David, why are all your Emmy awards in boxes and not out on display?” I responded defensively. “They don’t define me. I hate to be pretentious and show them off.”
When you’re in your 20s, you run the rat race and work your tail off with no purpose or direction other than feeling, “I’ve gotta be the best!” Then 28 rolls around and you stop dead in your tracks, partially because you’re a little tired, and you say to yourself, “What the heck am I doing and who the heck am I?” Then two years blow right by and you realize you’re 30. If you’re like me, the night before you turn 30, you remove all the batteries in the clocks in case you wake up in the middle of the night and have to accept it before you’re ready.
For the first few years of your 30s, you are on a quest to find and fulfill your purpose. While you’re on the quest, you tell everyone the 30s are the best years of your life. You buy all of Oprah’s books, start listening to podcasts and have long, drawn-out conversations with your other friends in their 30s about self-reflection and you share inspirational quotes with each other that you swear are the universe talking exclusively to you. It’s gotta be “The Secret!”
By the time you’re 35, you say to yourself, “Okay, so this is who I am and this what makes me tick. I kind of like me.”
So, back to that conversation with Dan about keeping my awards out of sight in boxes. He told me that a co-worker of his at the salon was telling everyone that her dad was so proud because in his 20 years of working in television he got his first Emmy nomination. Dan said in that moment he thought to himself, “Wow! David has four Emmys and he’s sooooo young!” (Okay, maybe I added the young part to that story).
Anyway, I received Dan’s message in that conversation. I let him get me a beautiful glass cabinet for all my awards. Now, as I begrudgingly admit that I am knocking on the door of turning 40, I like to go stand in front of the awards cabinet. My first thought is always, “Wow, not bad, you could easily go take that PR job at the hospital and live a somewhat normal life.” Then I read the names of the stories on those trophies and I think of the people in those stories and how I’ve helped bring them inner peace. I’ve helped them heal from tragedy. I’ve helped change laws and then I go, “Crappppp! You’re not done, dude! You’ve got so many more stories to tell.”
Don’t ever downplay who you are or the things you’ve achieved in life. We don’t need trophies or awards to validate us, but sometimes they are good reminders of the people who got us to those proud moments of accepting them. Learn to accept your journey and celebrate the person you are today!