My next couple posts will explore a little bit about identity, and lessons I’ve learned the hard way about my identity. Hopefully, it’s not too transparent! I look forward to your thoughts.
**For the record: The pictures in this post are only meant to illustrate what were once important gold stars. 🙂
“My name is Jeanne, and I’m a gold star seeker.”
“You’re a what?!”
In elementary school, I excelled at earning those academic gold stars. My sixth grade teacher wrote the name of every student on pieces of construction paper. He taped them to the wall outside our classroom. Each Friday, a gold star appeared on the papers of the students who received 100% on their spelling tests that week. A silver star went onto those who only missed one word. I worked hard for those gold stars! It felt good to see my star line keeping up with the popular kids’ star lines. I had one way in which I felt equal.
In every other way, I gathered gray dots without even trying.
Picked on. Spit on.
Left out of games.
The gray dots formed my identity. For years. My time in elementary school molded how I perceived myself and my interactions with others.
As I grew older, I figured out how to get gold stars. I was a strong student. A “good girl.” I was a good swimmer. I had a decent singing voice. When I became a Christian at fourteen, I learned the Bible and how to live life the ways God expected. My life looked godly.
But I still struggled with feeling rejected—ever in fear of earning gray dots instead of gold stars.
I learned how to work to my strengths. Those gold stars I earned made me feel G-O-O-D. The problem with working to my strengths was that I became fearful of doing or saying things that would earn me a gray dot (Translate: Would cause people to stop liking me).
My whole identity became wrapped up in earning gold stars. I think the reason I cried the first time I heard someone read the story, You Are Special, was because my spirit resonated with Punchinello’s (the main character) struggle. True confession: I was in my mid-thirties when I first heard this story. It touched me at the core of who I was.
My mind recalled all the gray dots I’d earned over the years. I pictured how each one shaped my identity, taught me how to respond to life. I also pinpointed those “gold star” moments that encouraged me to continue doing whatever was necessary to earn more of them. Living life chasing after the gold stars left me empty and fractured.
I’ll share what I learned next week.
What about you? What are your thoughts about gold stars and gray dots? What is your identity?