Do you remember the gold stars we used to get in elementary school? I cherished those stars. Receiving a star meant I’d done something well. Stars meant I was a good girl, I listened, I completed my assignments, I worked well with others. I was always proud to bring home a gold star on a homework sheet. Later, as the stars changed colors (gold was for babies!), I still felt proud when I received one. Why, as adults, don’t we still get a star when we do something well? Is it that upon entering adulthood there are expected things, things we’re supposed to want to do like go to work, mow our lawn, take regular showers? I am clearly missing the gene that regulates what one should simply “do” upon entering adulthood. I need incentives. It would be nice, when I show up to work, to receive a star for doing so (because I don’t want to do so. Give me a star for effort). I took a shower today. Reward me (because this could get bad fast). I see no reason to not be congratulated for folding the laundry and putting it away. Yes, I am supposed to do it. That doesn’t make it any easier. Adulthood sucks. Why do all these envelopes from the mail have my name on them?
I guarantee you if I were to put up a star chart in my office people would be clamoring to do things to earn stars. Rewards are good, even for adults. As adults, we get stars in the form of raises or bonuses at work, public accolades, good credit scores, nice homes. I’m not saying we should get something for nothing, but, wait, OK, yes, sometimes I want something for nothing. I want something for doing the things I’m “supposed” to do just because I actually did them.
One such thing I would like congratulations on is remaining within the confines of my self-imposed weekly budget. I usually do pretty well with this budget but, it requires my taking lunch (and actually eating that lunch rather than visiting the overpriced cafeteria downstairs. Seriously, they charge $.10 for a paper plate!). At the start of the budget it used to go like this:
Monday: Take nothing because Sunday nights are stupid, Monday mornings are stupider, and I do not prepare well.
Tuesday: Take lunch but buy a pizza.
Wednesday: Take lunch but eat only part of it, supplementing the part I don’t want with a $3 baked potato. (The fact that I can buy a 5 lb bag of potatoes from the grocery store for under $3 is not lost on me).
Thursday: Take nothing because, well, there’s no real reason.
Friday: Take nothing because it’s Friday and I should be rewarded for not having thrown my easy button at anyone’s forehead all week. More pizza!
This can result in well over $30 for the week. Pizzas are $6.50+ and the hot bar is $7/lb. The hell? No gold stars will be given. But, I buckled down this week:
Monday: Brought leftovers from Sunday — Sausage, broccoli, and rice.
Tuesday: Brought leftovers from Monday — Chicken, mashed potatoes, and string beans.
Wednesday: Canned soup. (This soup tasted like dirty, boiled fingernails with no salt. Note the low fat. It must stand for yuck). To reward myself for finishing the whole can, I went downstairs and bought a pizza (and a cookie).
Thursday: Broke down and bought the broccoli and cheese soup from the cafeteria.
Friday: Brought barbecued chicken and cabbage. See? I can be a good girl. In fact, that foil blob to the far left is a bagel I brought for breakfast.
So, it’s not a perfect week by far, but it’s better than before. I don’t need a huge star, ostentatiously announcing to other lax adults that I am better than them. No, something small will do, just a reminder that I keep showing up trying to find my footing in the land of adulthood. This place needs lightboxes; everyone seems depressed. They must get those same envelopes.
I am so about to buy these.
And this is just a random fingerpainting the middle girl did years ago that I just can’t part with. It’s got to be five years old and has absolutely nothing to do with this post.