The Agony of Awards

by Bill Brenner on March 5, 2011

This will seem strange to some of you, maybe even ungrateful and insulting — but lately I’m looking at some of my old writing awards with disdain.

I should be proud of those awards. I earned them.

But every time I look at them, it’s another reminder of just how fucked up I used to be. We need reminders so we don’t repeat the same mistakes, but some memories are best left in the trash can.

One of those awards was for my coverage of the RSA security conference in 2005. When I think of just how brutal that experience was, the award becomes less of a prize.

At the last job, there was an annual award ceremony called the Bull’s-Eye Awards. They’d have a nice dinner and after the awards were handed out there would be karaoke, talent shows and the like.

I would practically lose my mind obsessing about the awards in the month leading up to the ceremony. It was a stupid thing to do, but that’s where my head was at five years ago.

I got my one or two awards each year, but the glow was always short lived. The pressure would be on to top it next year.

My perspective has changed.

I won’t lie: Getting awards today doesn’t suck. I have one in my office from my current job and I’m proud of it. I’m proud of it because I wasn’t trying to earn it. I was just doing my job and enjoying it. I wasn’t obsessed about pleasing my masters. I just did what felt right. That made winning it a lot sweeter.

But the bigger point is that I really don’t care about awards anymore. If I get them then great. But I’m never again working myself into a stupor over trying to win one.

It’s just not worth it for pieces of glass and plastic.

I recently thought of breaking the awards from the last job as a sort of exorcism. I decided that would be immature and foolish. In the end, whatever my emotions were back then, they gave me those awards because they liked my work. They didn’t have to do that.

And despite my frame of mind back then, the folks at TechTarget were always good to me. The job I’m in now is so much better, but part of it is my own change in attitude.

So the awards will stay where they are, on the side table of my work area at home.

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