I was recently told that I had a strong need for recognition. At first this made perfect sense, but the more I think of it (yes, this is me and my natural tendency to overthink) the less I understand what it actually means (if you’re looking for answers, don’t bother to read on).
If the idea got stuck in my head in the first place it’s because when telling me this, the person that said it was, in one way or another, judging my relationship with my area of work. Since looking up words in a dictionary has never hurt anyone, I decided to look up the definition of « recognition ». Two of the definitions I found spoke to me, this is what I retained:
- Definition A: to acknowledge that something exists or that it is true.
- Definition B: the acknowledgement of achievement.
In one way or another, I believe that these two things go together.
Many of us define ourselves through our work. It therefore becomes easy to say that what we do is what we are (more so that what we think). In a certain way, the things that we produce on a daily basis are little bits and pieces of us that will go down in history. The problem is that for these little pieces of us to exist, someone must acknowledge their existence. Unfortunately, I have come to notice that we live in a world where if we want something to REALLY be acknowledged, we must either accept to fulfill ridiculously high standards or, and I believe this to be the worst option, accept to produce something that must reflect what someone else thinks. What YOU do therefore becomes what THEY are. It’s no longer about how carefully you manage to polish an idea before setting it free into the world, it’s about your ability to get into someone else’s mind, figure out what they want and how they want it done, thoughtlessly execute the task and set it down on their desk for validation. Nothing, not one bit of this process reveals anything about who you are (besides your somewhat incredible capacity to rummage through someone else’s thoughts and make some sense of it all).
At first, trying to figure people out can be quite challenging and even interesting. The problems begin when your work is strictly limited to repeatedly carrying out the process described above: figure out what they want, thoughtlessly execute the task, ask for validation… The more you do this, the less recognized you feel, the less you exist. Apparently, simply acknowledging the fact that your task was appropriately carried out is not enough. Apparently, in order to really feel recognized, you must be able to add some of yourself into the formula. When it comes to a human being, definition A and definition B are siamese twins that were not made to be set apart!
Existing, being acknowledged for what you do and for what you accomplish, is not too much to ask. If we want to be recognized, then I guess it’s time for us to start standing up for our simple right to exist within our own conditions and not within the conditions that others determine for us without taking our realities, our passions and our dreams into account. As E. Galeano once said, « in the end, we are what we do in order to change what we are », so let’s start by changing what we do and how we do it in order to be what we really want to be.