Thursday, March 24, 2016
Over the years in my blog, I have written about faith, illness, and writing. Really, all of the topics have been safe. I haven’t talked about abortion, gay rights, politics, or anything on the list of fiery issues that can get people lambasted for their thoughts and ideas. I avoid conflict. I hate it. I get too emotional and my whole week can be ruined. I am a wimp and I don’t like being reduced to a pile of emotional muck. I miss the days of feeling safe to talk about my ideas with other individuals who respect me enough to not be cruel or for me to hurt their feelings.
A thought has been plaguing me for the last couple of weeks. I know it is linked to the entitlement dilemma that is talked about by a lot of people. The use of the word deserve bothers me. I hate the word deserve. Lately it seems I hear it everywhere. “I deserve to win.” “I deserve this job.” “I deserve to make more money.” “She deserves a free education.” The list could go on with how people deserve this or that.
Here is a list for me. “I deserve an auto-immune free body. I deserve a trip to Rome. I deserve a healthy, well-adjusted daughter. I deserve to sell 50 books a week. I deserve a husband who dotes on me. I deserve supporting parents. I deserve free classes in writing. I deserve to have giving, respectful relationships with my children. I deserve friends who stand by my side.” Now, some of these “deserves” I get and others I don’t get. The reality is that I don’t deserve a blasted thing. I am thankful for the deserves I receive.
Years ago I wanted to go to college. I was a great kid who didn’t do drugs or alcohol. I respected my parents and teachers. I played by the rules, never getting into big trouble. I didn’t have straight A’s, but I did well in school. I “deserved” to go to college. Most kids “deserve” to go to college. The reality is that it isn’t free. Sure, I had friends who had free rides due to scholarships or rich parents. I didn’t have either. I worked for my education. I worked three jobs. I EARNED my education.
Move forward many years, I applied for an amazing job as a GS-11 for the federal government. Multiple other people applied for the position. Did they “deserve” the job? Did I? Well, sure. Most people “deserve” good things to go their way, and especially if they are qualified. Guess what? There were not multiple job positions. Just one. I ended up getting the job. Did I get the job because I deserved it? Nope, because the other people deserved it as well. I received the job because something in my resume spoke to the boss. I had a character trait he wanted in the position. I didn’t “deserve” the job any more than the other people. I worked hard for that job through honesty, hard work, and integrity. I didn’t walk into the interview room with the attitude of I “deserve” this job. I walked in and told them what I would do for the position and they liked it. They could have just as easily liked my competition who “deserved” the position as well.
I held the job for two years. During that time, I worked hard, but my health declined. I ended up being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I was so sick that I was missing a day a week of work and sometimes more. I applied for a medical retirement and was granted a disability. Now, I clean a toilet and office building for a little extra money and I have a four year degree. Do I “deserve” any of this? Nope. But I don’t not deserve it either. I couldn’t do the job and needed to leave. It was a fact of life. I could bemoan my fate or I could face it and find a new way to live. The word “deserve” has nothing to do with the scenario.
So, what do we do with this word “deserve.” Let’s look at my writing. I could say that after writing 1,286,862 in the last 8 years, I “deserve” to make a living as a writer. I could say I “deserve” a large book signing contract. Heck, I could say that I “deserve” enough sales to pay for a class or even to just buy a cup of coffee once a week for the rest of 2016. That isn’t asking all that much. Five dollars a week is it. Well guess what folks, I doubt that is going to happen. If I expect that, I am 99.9% sure that I would become a very disappointed, disgruntled person. I don’t deserve success. I do though deserve a chance. And I am getting that chance. My novel and five short stories are out there for readers to find. I deserve a chance at making that money, but I don’t “deserve” to make that money. Frankly writing and all things in life take hard work, determination, perseverance, and a splash of luck, timing, blessings, whatever you want to call it.
All we “deserve” is to strive for our best and see how it turns out.