From a distance my trophy shelf might’ve looked impressive. Unfortunately there was no distance to put between you and the shelf in my small childhood bedroom.
You wouldn’t be impressed by the gold and silver trophies of varying height. None were that big, but some were embarrassingly small. Half of the trophies were from Spelling Bees. From 5th-7th grade I dominated the Mississinawa Valley Spelling Bee. The entire middle school would assemble to watch their peers spell words. How awful. As bad as it was for the audience, it was worse for the contestants.
The night-before studiers would drop out in the first few rounds and then it would be down to me and any of the other word nerds who had studied the list frontwards and backwards for weeks. Eventually, they would cave under pressure and I would ascend, once again, to Spelling superiority.
I was awarded with small trophies with smiling bees on top, and punished with the promise of more studying for the district spelling bees.
My most embarrassing moment in my life happened at the district spelling bee, but that’s something for a later post.
I retired from the Spelling Bee after 7th grade. I didn’t have anything left to prove (like Michael Jordan), the game was never fun to begin with, and I had sufficiently weighted down my trophy shelf with a colony of shiny happy anthropomorphic bees.
Joining the bees on my trophy shelf were a host of Best Mental Attitude (BMA) awards. Everyone knows that these awards are for people who stink and manage to remain good sports while stinking.
The biggest BMA I have is from a Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament in which my team lost to two (2!) guys. In our defense, they were two really good guys and we sucked really bad.
My freshman year of high school, I won the BMA on the golf team. I was the 6th man on the golf team. The fifth “man” was a girl named Erica. The first time Erica and I played together we got into an argument. I thought a swing and a miss shouldn’t count as a stroke. Erica thought differently. After that my mental attitude improved. I loved golf. (Sucked at it, but loved it.) I’ll never forget the time our nine-fingered assistant golf coach hit one of my teammates in the face on her backswing. Hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing.
Come to think of it, maybe I didn’t deserve the BMA for golf.
I’m an award-winning martial artist…if you count my BMA in Kung Fu. It takes a special something to get tossed around and kicked in the face while smiling. I’ve never enjoyed pain so much. To this day, it’s the only award that sits on my bookshelf.
BMAs are for losers who never quit, who show up everyday with a “today is the day” attitude. This mind set has served me well in my writing career. I’ve never doubted that I would make a career out of writing. I didn’t know how long it would take, but I knew it would happen because I wasn’t going to give up until it did.
To this day I get kicked in the face by rejection, I write pieces that equate to a score of 100 on 9 holes of golf. I’m constantly reminded that there are better and more successful writers, but none of this phases me, nor should it phase any writer.
Every writer should leave space on their shelf for a Best Mental Attitude Award because that’s what it takes to succeed.