Screw Gold Stars

First grade was such a lovely time.

Happiness for me was a snack when I got home, to kick ass at jump rope during recess and, most importantly, to have another gold star displayed next to my name on the poster that all my classmates could see.

Crooked pigtails? Grass stained jeans? Kool-Aid mustache? Brother being extra annoying?

None of those things mattered if I got another gold star.

You see, the gold star poster wasn’t just a five-dollar scheme that my teacher used to get us kids to stop picking our noses and pay attention.

The gold star display was my identity and something I couldn’t avoid even if I wanted to. At the focal point of the classroom, a striking and eye-catching poster listed the name of each student followed by their gold star rating.

Everyone could see my value smack dab on that poster every single day.

I saw my value on that poster every single day.

I remember feeling happy, prideful, and content with my entire existence when I would gaze up at my beloved star collection. All of this was shattered the year of ’99.

little me

Little Kaitlyn, pre-gold star tragedy.

Gold star tragedy.

I believe the events you most vividly remember in your life are those that elicit the most emotions. One of these vivid memories comes from my first-grade story time.

The day my entire identity was shattered….

The day one of my beloved gold stars was revoked for disrupting story time while trying to whisper to my friend.

Up until this point, I had a perfect gold star track record. I was perfect.

Immediately, my eyes welled up and my heart dropped. I started crying, sobbing and didn’t want to participate in anything else.

I lost my gold star; what was the point of doing anything else good for myself that day?

The gold star delusion was so deeply embedded in me that I was too stubborn and heartbroken to listen to any rationale from my teacher. The teacher was forced to call my Mom to help me stop crying.

The loss of one stupid, two-cent gold star spiraled my entire day out of control.

Life forged on, as it does, after my gold star tragedy. I made sure I had perfect behavior for the rest of the year because I never wanted to feel the loss of another star again.

Gold star fallacy.

We live in a world of labels, expectations and images. We strive for the unreachable feeling of perfection – the euphoria of my perfect gold star track record. The gold star perfection was a fallacy. I was never truly happy because my happiness was dependent on those stars.

My wish is that we strive to remove the gold star fallacies and immerse ourselves in whatever it is that makes us feel inwardly alive. The type of aliveness that starts inside of you and transcends to fill up your soul.

Like the feeling of a sunrise…


It’s easy to pursue the gold stars that society suggests we should have.  

It takes bravery to pursue what you were meant to do. It takes persistence to muddle through all the imperfections that are natural and necessary to be great at something.

Moral of the story?

Be gorgeously human on the pursuit of whatever the hell you want.

And for goodness sake, screw gold stars.

I guarantee this turtle doesn’t lose any sleep over the stupid ass gold stars in life.


With Love and Giggles,


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