Don’t expect recognition for doing the right thing.
In fact, expect that many people will dismiss you because you’ve “never really lived.”
People who make good choices are assumed to be naive.
The culture tends to value those who have done really stupid things, once they claim they’ve learned their lesson. If you want to be popular, then get tangled in bad relationships, or drugs, or preferably something that lands you in the hospital or jail or both… and THEN, after a series of bad choices, announce that you’re ready to change.
You’ll become cultural heroes!
The biggest screw-ups become the most popular motivational speakers, because (we think) they’ve really experienced ALL life has to offer. We believe those screw-ups have MORE to offer than a small-town A-student who has never been in trouble.
So, I’m warning you, children: people might think you got where you are because you’ve never really been tempted…
They’ll think you don’t know what it’s like to struggle…
It rarely occurs to an arrogant Screw-Up that a “Good Kid” earns that label because he/she has struggled exactly as they have…and, unlike the screw-up, the Good Kid won!
Not only do I expect you to do what’s right without recognition. I expect you to do what’s right, even when you’re devalued because of it.
Even when your wisdom is called “privilege” and your victories are called “luck.”
When you try to tell others the secrets of your successes, and you’re told to sit down because they would rather take advice from screw-ups than have the humility to listen to a Good Kid, please remember that social recognition was not your goal in the first place.
Know that your children and their children and their children will benefit in a hundred unseen ways from the fact that you never ran with the wrong crowd… you never had to be set straight in the court system… you never NEEDED a major life turnaround, because you had the strength and determination to walk the narrow path from the beginning.
Your mom gets it.
I’ve had my life’s accomplishments listed for me as if they’re strikes against my credibility. “Well, you’re not very experienced because you married the only man you’ve ever been with! You had kids young! You’ve never run from the cops–never even TRIED drugs!”
I know how hard it is not to scream at those people: “THAT’S BECAUSE I’M SMARTER THAN YOU!”
…but don’t do that, babies. Be wise enough to hold your tongues.
Even though some folks will assume life has been easy for you, be proud that you’ve made it look easy.
The Arrogant Screw-Ups have to believe their lots were harder, because they feel small (and like a screw-up) when they stand next to you.
There will always be a bigger celebration for the Prodigal than for the faithful children who’ve done the difficult, self-disciplined thing all along…
Be the faithful, self-disciplined ones anyway.
I’m so proud of you.