Congratulations, Mehrnaz!

There is currently a giant billboard with my face on it in a major road in my community. Across the top, it reads: “Congratulations, Mehrnaz!” followed by some information and, thankfully, my face. A Pittsburgh-based law firm, Edgar Snyder and Associates, runs a scholarship contest for high school seniors every year. This year, I was one of the winners. The contest consisted of creatively discussing the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving. With the help of some friends, I filmed a short sketch about a group of teens’ irresponsible decision to drink before a party and drive under the influence. So original. This is a local scholarship, so I’m sure they only receive a few hundred submissions. It isn’t anything too special, but people’s reactions to my billboard would make it seem otherwise. 

Out of nowhere, classmates I have not spoken to in months texted me about the billboard. Adults would stop me in the grocery store to see if I was the girl on the billboard. I’m sure these people didn’t even know what the billboard was about, but I guess if someone’s face is printed large enough, people will think they are important. I promise you, I am not. If this billboard is my fifteen minutes, I am not going to be a very happy camper. 

For the past week, I’ve been forced to stare at myself on the road. I suppose “God” is making fun of how metaphorical I always am, because this billboard has been a quite literal take on self-reflection. Praise has never seemed like a positive thing in my mind; it is just an excuse to not work as hard. In the wise words of Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle, “there are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job”. In my case, it has been boiled down to just one word: congratulations. I obviously appreciate the nice gesture, but in my crooked mind, this billboard is a giant slap in the face. A sharp reminder that I should be working harder. Like they say, I’ll always be my own worst critic, but I seem to be less of a critic and more of a hater. I don’t think I will ever feel like I’m good enough, but at least I know a friendly insurance company disagrees. 

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