In 2008, I had submitted an excerpt from the novel I’m currently working on as part of the application to a creative writing graduate school.
Back then, the novel was only as long as a few chapters and was in its infant stages. (I learned too late that you should never submit your work at such an early stage—but, at that time, I didn’t know any better.)
By the time 2009 rolled around, I found out that I hadn’t gone into graduate school, and that this was just the beginning of a series of unfortunate events that would last until February 2010 (and, subsequently, would lead me to the creation of this blog).
Upset over the tumultuous events happening in my life at the time, I remember calling my friend E.
Over the phone, I told her how frustrated and annoyed I was about the process. Here I had put so much effort into achieving something I really wanted, and I didn’t get it.
Had it all been a tremendous waste of time? Was I fool to think it would even work?
What was more: during the previous two years I had gone through an important revolution. For the first time in my life, I had started to deal with my emotions in a more healthy manner. I was actually starting to process my emotions instead of repressing them. I know it must have seemed like a simple, barely noticeable change to others, but to me it was a monumental achievement.
Although it was widely recognized that I had failed to get into graduate school, no one had recognized the quiet victory I had achieved over my heart.
“I feel like I’ve spent the past two years getting a master’s degree in successfully dealing with my emotions,” I told E. “Too bad there isn’t a certificate or award for that.”
My friend E and I continued to talk for a few more hours that day. I remember my friend tried her best to console me, but I was such a mess at the time, that I don’t think anyone could’ve ever cheered me up.
The phone conversation finally ended with me feeling just as depressed as ever.
Then, a few weeks passed by.
I had completely forgotten about my conversation with E, when I got a package in the mail. The package was a large manila envelope. I opened up the envelope and pulled out its contents. There were two items inside: a beautiful certificate (with shiny golden edges) and a small note.
I read what was on the certificate first:
Certificate of Excellence
For successfully dealing with his emotions
Then I read what was on the note:
“Turns out there ARE certificates for people who have successfully dealt with their emotions. Love you!
Then an overwhelming feeling came over me and I sobbed.
I think I cried at that moment because it was such a tremendous relief to know that, despite my very loud failures, my quiet victory had been honored.
Each one of us has achieved something in our lives that we wished had been honored at the time, but because we are never taught to honor our “quiet victories,” we were probably left without any recognition for our great achievement.
After all, who will honor us for sticking to a consistent writing schedule for an entire year? Who will honor us for leaving a toxic relationship that was bad for us, and that took us such great pains to leave? Who will honor us for exercising more and eating healthier for the first time in our lives?
Who will honor us for all of those quiet victories—those subtle, hidden achievements in life that receive no official awards or shiny, golden certificates? Who will hand us a diploma for mastering a type of education that has not been established by any formal institution?
Who ever heard of giving out plaques for: “Surviving The Great Recession”? Or: “Not Letting Cancer Take Away My Thirst For Life”? Or: “Keeping My Hope Alive Even After My Loved One Passed Away”?
These awards for life’s quiet victories are never handed out… and yet, aren’t these the achievements that matter the most to us? Aren’t these the achievements that are the most deserving of an official award?
The quiet victories that happen behind closed doors are sometimes the most impressive and most inspiring victories in life.
So why do we keep ignoring them?
I’m sure that, during this year, you yourself have achieved something grand that no one knows about (or that very few know about). This quiet achievement is probably something that doesn’t normally receive an official award, plaque, or ribbon. This quiet victory is probably something that would never get the official certification of an academic institution.
And yet, to you, this quiet victory means the world.
But just because there’s no “official certificate” or “diploma” for quiet victories such as yours, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be honored.
You did something great and it deserves recognition.
So, if no one is honoring you, please, by all means, honor yourself.
You know exactly what quiet victory of yours needs honoring. Now all you have to do is make it official: put it on a certificate and hang it up on your wall.
Congratulations On Your Quiet Victory
I, for one, congratulate you on your quiet victories this year.
I assure you: they have not gone completely unnoticed.
Today’s Courage Exercise
Have you achieved a quiet victory this year that has not been properly honored by you, or others? Is this achievement something not ordinarily recognized by official awards, certificates or trophies? If so, maybe you need to honor yourself by awarding yourself your very own “Certificate of Excellence.” After you’ve made yourself this certificate, please place it near your desk where you can see it. Let this certificate serve as a reminder to you that you should always honor yourself and your quiet victories.
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