November 24, 2003 08:13 PM

I need to be graded. It's not something that pleases me. Rewards and incentives are motivators not for brilliance, but for obtaining rewards and incentives. I know that, and I'm embarassed to still want them.

I'm improving, enough that now I just want to be graded.

No. I don't even just want to be graded. I want to be graded best. I want constant proof that I'm the 98th percentile, or at least the top decile, in all ways that my brain may control. Apparently I require some sort of nerdiness validation, which is odd, considering I wasn't strongly praised for being a nerd; it was just an expectation I had of myself that my family came to share.

So, it wasn't at all surprising to me that my reaction to being rated the equivalent of "next-best" in my last work performance review months ago was somewhat disappointed. Sure, sure, my boss said "next-best" was actually great. It was the top decile, at least. I was praised highly. It was still next-best.

But, ha! This time around I am actually perfect. A-plus. The actual best. Ninety-eight percent, baby. I even got a promotion as a result.

All I need to do is do it again.

What really truly rocks about this is the pride from my parents. My mom seriously cheered when I called her to tell her about the A+ and accompanying second absurd raise this year. I mean, I didn't really need to worry about money before, but it's nice to have your parents recognize that you're succeeding in a way they can relate to, and to have people in general know you're good at what you do.

I've always known that. I've always known at a deep, unshakeable level, even through occasional doubt, that I was good at anything I tried to do.

And I suppose it's alright to be graded, if the grade is just a reinforcement of what you already knew about yourself.

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