Balm for the soul, rewards for your efforts, confirmation after all.
Do we ever get enough of that, the appreciation of others?
It was a cold morning in November. Actually, she didn’t really feel like running at all. Her inner weakness was telling her to stay in bed. Nevertheless, she pushed herself, step by step. The music she was listening to made her deaf to her surroundings – unfortunately not for her thoughts.
“Fitness is the priority”, she told herself in time with the beat.
Just yesterday, they happened to be at a party and people were overwhelming her with compliments, about, her super fit toned body, after she gave birth to 3 kids. Wow!
Anna didn’t feel strong though. Not euphoric or proud. Every step made her sick.
Passing shops and coffee bars, the smell of freshly made coffee was strong and inviting.
Through the glass, Anna saw a family having breakfast. A typical Sunday activity.
She’d love to spend time in this place, with her own family. Her husband had suggested it countless times. His co-worker was all thrilled with this coffee-bar. She always had refused her husband’s suggestion. Looking for reasons why she figured there is only one: Pancakes and Croissants just don’t fit into her diet.
Her all-the-time condition. Actually, you can spend your time differently than just stuffing your face with sugar and fat, but what if you want to? What if that’s the right thing for this very moment?
What would happen if she would stop to push herself to her limits and far beyond it, constantly? For sure, there would be fewer compliments. Did she really care about that?
She went left, in the direction of the fields. Her monitor warned her: She was leaving the optimum heart rate. Anna slowed down, she saw the sun rising over the icy fields. She smiled. Actually, her whole life as an adult she was convinced that she wasn’t the slave of anyone or anything. Not dependent on the appreciation of others. Now she realized: That was a trap! Yet, she felt empty thinking about all the compliments she got. They didn’t really do anything for her at all. Just a “nice to have”. Wouldn’t it be great to be pleased with yourself and be able to take the compliments you get from others on top, as a little nice extra, but nothing else? YES!
Anna’s path brought her back to the coffee-bar and their pancakes: “That will be take out”, she said. Once she got home, ringing the doorbell, her husband Lukas laughed, unable to see her face behind all the food containers she carried “is that you, or the delivery boy who shows up at the wrong door?” he said with a big smile on his face. He took the containers out of her hands and wondered, it seemed as his wife did order everything that is on their menu, like twice. Anna was happy, they were having breakfast sitting on the floor in the living room, a children’s program running in the background. The smiling faces of her family made her happier than ever, she made the right decision for today. It was all she wanted for that moment. There was no compliments and no appreciation at all, not that it would have been necessary.
„You really have to wake up and try harder“, his father said with a frown, while he closed his book aggressively. He took his glasses off, upset and annoyed. Bastian didn’t have the nerve to look up, he felt miserable. Like a big time failure. He knew this moment would come when he had to show his father, the paper he got back from his professor. The results were shattering. It seemed like he didn’t understand a bit of what this class was about. His paper almost failed the subject completely.
He got up, hesitantly looking at his dad, who was standing in front of their big window now. Rubbing his forehead, mumbling. Like this could change anything. As he walked down the hallway, and, went up the stairs to his apartment, he got angry. Angry because of his professor and the stupid subject for this paper. For the most part, he was mad at his dad. The perfect-dad, perfect-lawyer and perfect human that he was! Anger brewing inside of him, he let himself fall on his couch. His dad who never wanted anything but to be proud of him, just once in a lifetime. Why was this making him so mad?
He got caught in the idea of telling his dad how he’d quit his law studies. Bastian had enough! Why should he still plant hope in people when there’s really nothing to hope for? His whole life was defined by this dream: His father’s dream. His son the lawyer. Bastian smiled while thinking about the face his dad would make by his decision. Right then, it dawned on him! Was his amusement over this a bit too much? In fact, was he the forced boy, with his complete future based on the pride of his father?
He just sat there thinking, for a long time. Many moments ran through his memory. To his shock, many of those, he could have easily done so much more. Yet, he decided not to. He was a master at letting good chances pass by. Stubborn he had waited for his dad to react, while he knew what was coming. It seemed almost like this was his goal. Only that!
What was the real problem? Was it the law-studies or that he was unable to accept any kind of appreciation from his dad? He always understood praise and compliments as a weakness. Like that’s for people who depend on both. That wasn’t how he wanted to be! Did he try to prove himself to his dad that he wasn’t oblique to that? While all these thoughts rushed through his mind, a tear ran down on his cheek. Him, the cool guy, who was too cool for his dad being proud of him. Him, who actually loved his field of study.
When he got up the next morning, looking at the sunrise, everything was clear. The night did wash off everything. His thoughts have been confirmed. From today on, Bastian wanted to do what he wanted to do. Being successful, and happy with it, and the pride others may have for that. Did he really think he was too cool for the appreciation of his dad? He smiled while he thought: ‘Well, that’s really the most ridiculous thing I ever heard.’
Years after his degree, as he was walking out of a meeting with an important client, he saw his dad sitting in the lobby. His dad looked up from his book when he noticed him, as they came together he gave him a big hug and a pat on his back “You got a new client on board, son? I’d like to say that I always knew what you are capable of but I didn’t. I hoped you’d do the right thing, especially the right thing that would bring YOU happiness! Are you happy, Bastian?”
“Yes, Dad, and feel free to be proud of me.”
Be brave enough to walk your path without the appreciation and praise of others.
Don’t be too proud, to accept them, with a smile on your face.