I’ve been thinking lately that grown-ups need gold stars.
Remember when you were a kid in second grade? When you handed in your math worksheet all completed or when you aced the spelling test, you’d get your paper back with gold stars on it. Or stickers. Or maybe just the teacher’s hand-drawn smiley face and a Good job! I don’t think these little rewards made a huge difference when it came to inspiring me to get my work done, but they were nice to receive. A small affirmation. A little reminder that I’d done good.
We stopped getting gold stars as we got older. Which is understandable. Among other things, our reward system should become more internal as we grow up. We should learn to do things not because we want the cool scratch-n-sniff sticker but because we want to succeed. Mostly this works. Plus, of course, our rewards become bigger and longer-term. Semester grades. College acceptances. Paychecks. Raises. Happy families. Maybe even admiration of our peers. All excellent.
But still, I have those days when I haven’t done anything spectacular. Nothing that anyone would notice—and probably not more than what’s expected of me as an adult with various responsibilities. But because I’m feeling tired or overwhelmed or just plain cranky, it would be nice to get that small acknowledgment for doing my job. In other words, I want my gold stars, dammit!
This week, for example? I went to the dentist. I walked up the stairs instead of using the elevator. I resisted the temptation to eat the Twinkies that are supposed to be for my daughter’s lunch. When I learned that someone at work had said something negative and incorrect (but ultimately not damaging) about me to a colleague, I did not march to the asshole’s office and tell him what I thought of him. I was patient with the students who emailed to ask me questions I’d already answered in class. I sat through meetings without checking my phone. I refrained from getting into a senseless argument on Facebook. And one night, I even got to bed at a reasonable time.
I’m the first to admit that none of these accomplishments are earth-shattering. But I think they were gold star–worthy, right?
I bet you’ve been good too. So by the power vested in me by nobody in particular, I’m going to bestow virtual gold stars on you. Just comment here and tell me how you’ve earned ’em.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/