Creating life's report card

Wedding toast, September 1999

Veggies: Used the last batch of garden tomatoes for tabouli this week
Wine: Catching up on Wine Merchant wines of the month ... the Cabernet was fine, but not good enough to bother running downstairs to get the name

I was the nerd who couldn't wait to receive her report card ... I'd rush home, proudly show it to my parents, and beg to go to Friendly's right after dinner to cash in on my free Reese's Pieces sundae in exchange for my latest term of straight As. After report cards came formal and not-so-formal performance evaluations during my many careers. I've celebrated and sobbed over the awards, criticisms, red-inked papers, 4.0s, promotions, and raises, believing that they affirmed that I had room for improvement in some areas, but that in general I was successful. That I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. That life was good. 

In many recent discussions and personal reflections, I've been forced to consider the validity of external evaluations. Are they necessary? Do they accurately measure success (or failure)? Do they matter? I don't have any definitive answers yet, but I do know that I've been far too reliant lately on external evaluations, and that I've adopted some standardized measurements of success that just don't apply to my values. So what if I'm passing on a scale that means nothing to me?  

If I can't escape our established grading/evaluation system, then I want to at least create my own report card, and I want to grade myself on my own criteria:
-Am I learning new things and meeting new people?
-Do I have meaningful relationships with a diverse group of people?
-Am I contributing time/energy/passion toward a cause I believe in?
-Does my daily life give me--or drain me of--energy? Is my daily schedule filled with obligations or opportunities?
-Am I spending work and personal time involved in projects that align with my values?
-Do I greet and close each day with as much love and excitement and humor and hope that I have in the picture of my wedding toast?

And those Reese's Pieces sundaes? I can easily let them go. There's always another bottle of wine to open...


  1. These are such great, important questions, Jen! It takes a lot of insight and courage to really look at one's life and make choices based on these questions.


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