An Undeserved Recognition

As a young seventh-grader I received my first high school yearbook. Most of the stories and pictures were of events I, as a bottom-of-the food chain junior-high kid, knew nothing about. I didn’t go to the prom, see the school musical, or attend more than one football game. But something in the yearbook caught my imagination. Seniors were selected by their peers to “be somebody”. They might be the best at sports or most likely to succeed. I wondered how such a selection might feel.

My high school career did not exactly toss me into the spotlight. I was never a class officer. I nursed a mended broken leg and could not play football (robbing me of a true Western Pennsylvania rite of passage). I knew I would never be best-looking. Being captain of the debate team was no ticket to glory. On the day we cast our ballots in homeroom I was resigned to missing the mark.

The results were announced that afternoon and was I surprised! My peers had selected me as “Most Dependable”. Somehow I made the cut but, hey, I never had thought of myself as dependable. I could not imagine how my peers could see that in me. However, the fact that one of the smartest and most accomplished young women in my class had also been so selected gave me the idea that somehow I should value the recognition.

I decided to become what perhaps others saw in me. I would wear the mantle and do my best to play this hand. Maybe I had been dependable, maybe not. However, in years to come my default role was to strive to be dependable. Not so much an accolade as an inspiration, this “silly honor” made a better person of me.