I've always liked that Rolling Stone's song. Always appreciated the diction in the famous line. My man Mick tell us that we CAN'T always get what we want. Not that we don't or may not, but we can't. It's just not possible to always get what we want, but sometimes, he tells us, SOMETIMES, folks... we just MIGHT find we get what we need... *in my southern preacher voice*
These last two days showed me that Mick, whether he knew it or not, was smack dead on the point. You can't always get what you want but sometimes you do get what you need, aka, Jesus will always come through in the clutch (and sometimes when you have no idea you need Him to).
Tuesday evening my program had its annual end of the year banquet. What the banquet is for is still, after many years of occurrence, in development, but generally the idea is to honor the graduating students and acknowledge their time in the program. This is also the time that the Roger F. Aubrey North Star Award, given to honor a student for excellence in leadership, academics and service, is announced. In our program this is a big deal; in truth it is the only deal. Students are nominated by their peers and then chosen by the core faculty in the program.
I was aware I had been nominated for the award because I had to write an essay. A total lie would be to say I did not care if I won. I had a vague idea of who had been nominated and just that vague idea let me know I had stiff competition. Another total lie would be to say no one knows who I am in this program. Everyone knows who I am and it was for that reason that it just felt... wrong... to expect to win.
This is something I battle with. How much is too much when it comes to horn tooting? Did I deserve the award? Sure I did. But so did everyone who was nominated and why would I be special? Why not highlight the accomplishments and hard work of some students who maybe didn't get as much shine as I did over the last two years. Basically, I fell back into that "who am I to be great" mode of thinking that is actually pretty damn protective and a favored go-to of mine when I don't want to be let down.
The truth is that I have some vague awareness that I'm a special person. I've surely been told that I am enough. At some point in my future I'll be able to hypothesize about the idea that people who are meant for greatness go through a specific developmental set of stages on their way to greatness. Right now, the stage that I'm most aware of is the "wanting to see self as others do." It's this place where you know you might actually be everything everyone says you are, but you just can't see it. In their song "Like I Am," Rascal Flatts sing a couple of lyrics I love, "but will I ever see all the things you see in me" and "when you say that I'm one of a kind, baby I don't see it, but you believe it..." That's where I am. People keep telling me so it must be true and now I'm ready to see it for myself. Sure, sometimes I repeat what I'm told, but it is often the same as when a young child emulates something their father does - they do it because someone they trust did it, not because they understand what it means.
Anyway, there I sat last night listening to the introduction of the person who would be named the 2012 Roger F. Aubrey North Star Award recipient. I listened as one of my professors talked about how Roger Aubrey, the man the award is named for, was the type of person who made everyone feel like they were special. How everyone commented that when he talked to them he made them feel like they were the only person that mattered. And before I could really comprehend what he said more than to think "I hope I make people feel that way," my professor said my name and I really had that moment where everything was happening in slow motion.
At my peers' request I gave a brief speech and I was sincere. As sincere as I know how to be. I thanked them repeatedly, I expressed my sincere surprise at winning (even named the individual I thought would actually win) and told them that anything I had accomplished in my 2 years was absolutely because I had been blessed enough to complete this period of my life with an amazing group of people.
After the program was over, I got a hug from almost everyone present, including all of my professors and everyone congratulated me, several folks told me they were happy I received the award and felt it was right for me and one of my favorite people even said she wished I would win. It's nice to know you're noticed, it's nice to know you're loved and it's great to know people care and care enough to say so.
Afterwards I text all of my friends to tell them I had won and I was taken aback at the genuine happiness I got back from all of them. Everyone was happy for me and I heard from them what I heard all night from my peers. You're great, you deserved it and I'm happy for you. My last post was a lot about how much I've been needing that from my peers, my friends, the folks who matter to me. I've wanted it for a while -- and I wasn't getting it. But I got it last night and I needed it last night even though I don't think I realized that until I had it.
And then this morning one of my best (and oldest) friends called me to say she was an hour away and wanted to have lunch with me. Best surprise all year. Funny - I was thinking not too long ago how much I'd like to be surprised once in my life. I'm thinking I needed that, too.