Consolation Prizes: A Lesson in Accepting Rejection

For as long as I can remember I have received consolation prizes. In my pony club rallies (a three day horse show, where no parents were allowed, that were only the best things ever!) the consolation prizes were the best. They were medals, with elaborate silver metal work around them, on a beautiful multi-colored ribbon. This was how you knew it was a consolation prize. It wasnt the deep blue of first, or even the blood red of second, or the sunshine yellow of third. No, it was all the other colors of the rainbow, because those who do not win make up the rest of the world, just like our ribbons made up the rest of the colors of the rainbow.

Now perhaps that last bit sounded a bit cynical, but recently I’ve come to see that same beautiful medal all around me in dealing with friends, employers, and even potential dates. When your’re being fired, “This isn’t personal, this is a buisness decision, you really are one of the sweetest people.” Or the man you had a seven hour date with, where you talked away the night, “I’m not interested in pursuing anything more than friends, but that being said I’ve enjoyed hanging out with you, so I hope we can pursue a friendship.” Yes, because you get exactly what you want, to spend time with me, without the threat of commitment, and I get the consolation prize, or better yet you’re hoping I’ll deny the consolation prize and you can just disappear. I even find friends offering me consolation prizes when they think they’re going to disappoint me, because that’s what they’ve been trained to do by society.

We try to soften the blow, by offering something we think the person wants to hear. For anyone who’s ever been fired, you know that while it might have been buisness for them, it was definitely personal for you. How about the guy or gal that leads you on, only to offer the friends prize because they think it’ll get rid of you when they’re done using you. From a young age were taught to accept these consolation prizes and not think twice about them, because everyone’s a winner, so how do we learn to face rejection?

What happened to good old fashioned honesty. “I’m sorry little Johnny. You win some, you loose some, but it’s not the end of the world.” That beautiful medal still hanging up somewhere taught me that being treated second best was okay, that it was a good thing. Now, I’m not saying that it’s win at any cost, I’m saying we should be teaching people how to accept the loss, instead of sugar coating it. I want my future children to be able to take the losses and the rejections in life as graciously as the wins, and to learn that those losses, those rejections will always be a part of life that make us stronger, not weaker.

So I’m going to find that medal and offer it to the Goodwill, and challenge others to do the same. At that horse show, all I needed was to know that my team and I did our best, and as the Duggars say “Practice Makes Progress.

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