CSLThoughts #4 – Recognition of the Least

Welcome to Thoughts Out Loud on Frizzyfro.com. I am Danielle and this is my digital home. Thanks for joining me as I scowl at the present, remember the past, and wonder about the future.

Thoughts Out Loud is available for audio download on platforms such as iTunes, Spreaker, Stitcher, and Soundcloud and as a blog post on FrizzyFro.com. You are all very welcome for my kindness and generosity.

And because this is my birthday month, this episode is dedicated to all of the Pisces people in the world.

Before I delve into this week’s topic I want to ask you all a question: Do you know about the comedic duo Danielle and Dana also known as Dana and Danielle also known as the founding members of petty lane? Ok, so Dana is my comedic safe space. We both do things to make each other laugh and there’s no serious judgment involved. In my version of reality, Dana and I are the Desus and Mero of our own private petty island that’s lit by a teeny tiny problematic light.

For example, Dana is like Mero. She has a husband and a bajillion kids (ok, so only 4 kids – three girls one boy) and is literally a soccer mom. I am similar to Desus in that I make fun of Dana’s married with kids family lifestyle. And where Desus has an intense hobby of collecting boy shoes and watching the sports, I collect Broadway Playbills and museum receipts and enjoy photographing nouns.

When Dana and I first met, I had to write down the names of her kids in their birth order just to keep them straight. We live completely different lifestyles and neither of us is interested in swapping sides.
Someday I’ll tell you about how Dana got me to temporarily join Match.com. She wants me to use my heart or some such nonsense. Meh.

But anyway, speaking of kids…(not Dana’s kids, just random faceless kids) Let’s talk about how everyone is special and how everyone thinks they deserve equal praise even when they do the least.

I don’t believe in participation trophies or ribbons. You either win or you don’t (barring any tampering to fix the outcome).

Here’s my story: I started playing string instruments in elementary school. I played cello in 5th grade and switched to the violin in 6th grade. I started auditioning for various orchestras and competitions in 7th grade. In my senior year of high school I finally placed high enough during the eastern regional orchestra audition to make it in to the statewide Honors orchestra. Congratulations to me. That same year, the Eastern Regional committee decided to include a repertoire orchestra (also known as “the losers”) as part of the concert program. I remember being confused and annoyed with the announcement because WE (the winners) were supposed to be the focus. WE had put in the effort, had the talent, and performed the best that day to get the ultimate prize – a seat in the orchestra.

Creating the repertoire orchestra said to teenage me, “Well, just show up. Just be present, because that’s all that really matters. You’ll still get to play.”

No! That’s NOT all that matters.

Showing up + preparation/effort + skill + talent + magic dust + some other stuff that makes this equation equal a winner is what it takes.

I remember the principal making the announcement during my AP US History class: congratulations to the following students for making the eastern regional orchestra (he says my name and one other person’s name), and congratulations to the following students for making the repertoire orchestra (he names everyone else who auditioned including “T”). When the announcement was over, our teacher congratulated T, who was to be our future valedictorian, on her accomplishment. To T’s credit, she provided an Adele at the Grammys answer to my Album of the Year Beyonce moment. In front of the class she kinda shrugged and replied with something like, “Thanks, but I made the losers orchestra. Danielle made the real one that counts; they are just letting the rest of us play, too.”
The teacher glanced at me and then back at T and said, “Well, repertoire sounds more prestigious.” and she walked away.

That moment was the biggest snub I had ever received in my teenage life.

I would also like to point out that it was a blind audition like you see on the tv show The Voice. The judges had their backs to the instrumentalists while we performed. On the flip side, this teacher stared me in the face. She visually judged me and decided I was not worthy of acknowledgement EVEN AFTER BEING TOLD SHE WAS WRONG!

Wow. I’ve never really, really thought about this before. I have always remembered that teacher’s response, but never thought much about the event as a whole. Maybe it didn’t impact me too much at the time because I knew I was the better violinist and I knew I was going to major in music in college and I knew that I had been playing in a paid orchestra along side my teachers all through my Jr and Sr high years.

Knowing facts about yourself is definitely a great way to deflect negativity. But back to my main point, I loathe participation trophies, ribbons, and certificates. Actually, I’m going to modify my stance: You can have your participation crap, but it shouldn’t be given when the winners receive their recognition. Mail out the certificates or pick them up in the lobby on the way back to the car, but let the winner(s) have their moment in the spotlight.

Generally when you do something great and stand out from your peers you want to be acknowledged. I think that’s human. I think that’s reasonable.

Assuming prejudice and bias are not involved, if you stand out, you will be rewarded accordingly. And of course in the end, if no one else gives you your just due, give it to yourself.

That being said, you can’t be delusional about facts and reality. Ok?

Acknowledgements and Name Drops
I attended the 4th Anniversary live show for The Read in NYC and it was great. It rained like crazy just before the show and my fro was heavy with water. Also, Berry and I may have cut in line to stand with Ty. Shame on me because I yelled at someone for trying to do that last year. But you know what? He had an umbrella and I did not.

That night I got to meet several podcasters including the hosts of The Cure Podcast and We Come From Queens. I also got to meet Assante at The Read Popup shop, and now my Friend Zone Podcast trinity of mentions is complete.

Thanks for listening and I’ll be back to share more thoughts soon.

Additional Commentary not in the audio version:
I am aware that Beyonce did not win Album of the Year (but I think she should have). I mentioned that situation to point out the similarity of the acknowledged person recognizing that they did not deserve the unjustified accolade.

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