Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Unwrapping Joy

Lately I’ve been conducting personal interviews to introduce interesting people to the readers of our newspaper. What I’ve noticed is some subjects are anxious to detail their accomplishments while others are happy to reveal who they are inside. Of course, we’re encouraged to accumulate accomplishments over our lifetimes. We carefully copy them onto applications and include them in biographies, but what are we missing?

I deleted my accomplishments from my most recent author bio to be included on my next novel. I never met anyone who loved me for what I’ve done. In fact, I’ll never forget one girl—my first contact when, as a transfer student, I entered the unfamiliar halls of the high school from which I would soon graduate. She marched up to me. “Are you Susan Adair?” she demanded to know. “Yes,” I answered, wondering how she had come upon my name before I even started classes. “Well, you aren’t so great,” she told me. “You’re from inferior schools. You don’t deserve to be valedictorian.”

I had no clue what she was talking about, but her animosity was simple to read. Later, when the school counselor erased my name from the rolls of all the heavily weighted honors classes because she couldn’t be sure I’d be able to handle them—thus ensuring I would never be valedictorian—I was relieved. If having that title meant I’d be the target of more vitriol, I didn’t want it. I have no idea who ended up with the prize. From my seat in the crowded gymnasium at graduation, I couldn’t see a single person I knew.

What can be more gratifying than being loved for yourself alone? I always felt sorry for young rich people who would never know if their “loves” pursued them for what they could provide. I suppose the prospect of unconditional love is one of the attractions of religions. SOMEBODY loves you.

I’m thinking the reason I once amassed meaningless awards was I didn’t feel lovable. I wanted to prove I was worthy. When you’re different, it’s easy to feel less-than. How often do we inadvertently give strangers the message they don’t matter? Donating money or wrapped gifts is wonderful, but what if we looked and truly saw the people around us? I admire those who dare to get involved, dare to actually care. Exposing your emotional and intellectual self opens you up to wounds. But when you stand up for the little person inside you, when you believe that little person is worthy even if you don’t get the contract or the job or the trophy, you remind that little person we’re valuable as we are. We aren’t here to win. Pain is part of the journey and not the most important part. We’re here to learn, to give, and to love. We’re here to reach out to all the other hidden people. Joy is precious and it’s not an award. It’s what we deserve.

May you find joy in whichever holiday you celebrate or simply in your being!

One comment on “Unwrapping Joy

  1. Frances Sullivan
    December 21, 2019

    Lovely, as always. Much joy to you and yours. It is what you deserve.

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