When you just hate recognition that much…

4 minute read

May 15, 2018, 11:05 PM

People are always amazed when I tell them that I hate receiving recognition.  I just don’t like it.  I don’t find it enjoyable.  In fact, I find it incredibly awkward all around.  I don’t know what it is, but it just isn’t a fun thing.  This came to mind recently because of two discussions that I had with colleagues in the last few weeks.  One was about an operator competition that my employer was having, and another was about an employee of the month program that my specific division has.

In the case of the former, where train operators go out and demonstrate their skills for judges, I couldn’t see any way to get a satisfactory result for myself as a participant.  If I don’t place, I’m kicking myself for not doing better.  If I place, then I have to deal with a whole bunch of unwanted recognition.  Not participating at all seems to take care of both concerns, and I have no problem attending as a non-competitor and watching others compete.  I’ve done that before at a similar event for the bus, where I was there but didn’t compete, and I had a blast.  Besides, I have the most fun just being myself while operating the service.

In the case of the latter, a coworker brought up the idea of it, and how I would possibly be a good candidate for the employee of the month award.  I was honest about it: if I ever were to get the award, I believe that my response would be, “Thank you very much, but please give it to someone else.”  In other words, I would probably decline it.  I just want to do my job and call it a day, and a whole bunch of unnecessary attention just gets in the way of my being awesome.

Thinking about it, I imagine that 24-year-old me would have been surprised to find out that 36-year-old me wants nothing to do with awards or formal recognition to the point that I would decline an award if one was offered to me.  After all, at 24, I was chasing after the “Four Star Cashier” award at Walmart, which had somewhat nebulous criteria, but which I persistently pursued until I got it.  However, that pursuit had a specific purpose: a resume line.  I could put that on my resume as a professional award, because I was definitely looking for a better job the entire time that I was working at Walmart.  Did it help?  Probably not, but it is still on my resume and my LinkedIn profile, though considering the age of the award (12 years!) and the fact that my employment with Walmart did not end on good terms, I probably should take it off of there.

But, interestingly enough, college-aged me got it. We have documented proof of that in a 2003 quote article about my then-upcoming college graduation, where I intended to – and did – ditch the ceremony entirely.  I had plenty of reason to hate JMU by the time that I graduated, as college was generally a negative experience for me where I didn’t see much success.  And I still resent that “senior roast” that LPCM did for me back in 2003.  I had missed whatever LPCM end-of-year event that also honored the seniors due to another commitment that I couldn’t get out of.  I didn’t mind missing it, though going to that would have been preferable to what I was stuck going to, i.e. a dinner where Residence Life masturbated to its own accomplishments.  In any case, I was content to let it go.  But apparently the minister couldn’t, because the following Wednesday, she did what she couldn’t do the previous Sunday and “roasted” me in front of the group.  I was mortified.  I was definitely not in my happy place with that.  Very uncomfortable situation.

You don’t know how happy I was to find out when I was training to be a train operator that there was no graduation event at the end of the program.  Just finish and move on.  When I trained for the bus, there was a graduation event at the end of that program, and I was hand-wringing on that one for several weeks prior, because I knew that the whole thing would be awkward.  I somehow managed (getting paid to participate in that dog and pony show definitely helped in that case), but nonetheless, it caused a lot of unnecessary stress.

And then there’s my birthday.  That big ball of awkwardness that celebrates the fact that I completed another trip around the sun.  I’m pretty sure that I hate my birthday because it’s always awkward, but the fact that the birthday is so culturally ingrained as a celebration makes it hard to avoid.  Elyse and I are going down to see my parents on my birthday, and hopefully I will be able to convince them to act like it’s not my birthday and avoid all of the awkwardness.  I still remember 2005, back when I was working at Walmart, and deliberately didn’t request off on my birthday in order to forget about it.  That backfired majorly, as a few people knew about it, and they told everyone.  All day, I couldn’t avoid it, because the stream was constant.  I just wanted to do my job and go about my business.  I’m amazed that I didn’t slug someone that day, though that would have totally been worth getting fired over.  And really, birthdays are not a cause for celebration – at least not annually.  A few big numbers, sure, but annually is just too much.  So much awkwardness just for existing.  Just let me age quietly, okay?

I think that the best way to describe my aversion to awards and recognitions is like the ending to Street Fighter II if you win as Ryu.  In the normal Ryu ending, Ryu is shown to have ditched the ceremony following the end of the tournament because, seeing no value in celebrating the accomplishment, he has already moved onto his next adventure.  “The fight is everything,” as it says.  I have found myself getting behind that sentiment a lot lately.  I’m not big into celebrations.  I put value in the process of achieving the milestone, but when it’s done, it’s over, and it’s time to move on.  I especially hate when people fawn over an accomplishment, because there’s no way out of that situation that isn’t awkward.  Congratulations are cheap and feel hollow, and as such are of no use to me.  And it’s the little things that stress me out, too, like whether you’re supposed to clap when you’re the one being applauded, or whether you’re supposed to sit there quietly.  Skipping the recognition entirely is always preferred.

So all in all, recognition is just no fun, and I will go to any length to avoid it.

Categories: Birthdays, JMU, LPCM, Myself, Walmart, Work