We Are The Impressive Acts

I found myself reading past entries in Philip Roberts’ blog. I’d say I’m not sure why I was reading through his archives, but that would be a lie. Secretly, I believe that everyone should read through his archives on a regular basis.

In doing so, I came across his thoughtful piece on rejection:

His cry of failure cuts me deeper than I expect. In it I see my cries of failure, my tears of frustration in years gone by at my inability to just achieve things on the first, second, tenth try and to be accepted. As if we are all born perfect divers, skateboarders, mathematicians, lovers. As if the fact that we tried at all, even if we failed, is unimportant. How ridiculous a life to lead. To think that we should be perfect on our first, second even hundredth try. What a world this would be if we perfected everything instantly. How trivial, how easy, how boring!

I know now what I should have done. What would have made Alex, myself and possibly everyone else feel much better about the world at that point. I should have congratulated him in his attempt. I should have walked over to him as he got out of the pool, stuck up my hand for a high-five, and said “good job! now go do it again”, with a big sincere smile on my face.

Then I saw the predictable response:

The world does not need a lowering of the bar so that more people get congratulated for doing mundane things like jumping into a pool. What we need instead are people with drive determined to continue to climb until they finally do something worthy of recognition. Alex should take his lesson that jumping from the diving board didn’t illicit any sort of cheering and either learn to dive and possibly compete, quit diving all together, or be satisfied with the world not noticing how poorly he jumps off a diving board.

These posts were written almost two full years ago. I almost didn’t write this, because of how old they are. But hey, it was worth saying then, and it’s worth saying now.

The idea that there is an objective level of difficulty required to merit praise or celebration is absurd. The idea that for some people, jumping off a high dive is not something to celebrate wildly is absurd. It is easier for certain individuals to form Fortune 500 companies and rise to the top of their industry than it is for them to jump off a high dive.

Just because something is easy for you does not mean it is unworthy of celebration for someone else. Overcoming one’s fears is never mundane.

I deserve celebration today. I got out of bed. That was hard. That was unreasonably hard, but I did it, and I am going to celebrate that. And I honestly have no time for anybody that thinks I shouldn’t.

The author of the response post says “the world cheers for those who achieve impressive acts”.

We are the impressive acts. And we deserve to be celebrated.