Give Yourself a Consolation Prize — At Least You Can Do This One Thing

There’s usually just one little thing that could make your day a little better

Ryan Fan


Photo by Sven Vahaja on Unsplash

At the end of “The Wire,” a well-meaning police commissioner tries to fight against corruption and reform a department that arrests people for no reason and consistently engages in police brutality. He refuses to do what the council president wants and refuses to be a puppet for politicians, so he is forced out of his job.

At the very end, he gets to swear in officers who are promoted to sergeant or lieutenant. One of his proteges is promoted to lieutenant, a silver lining in light of incredibly negative circumstances.

“At least I can do this,” he says, smiling as he unceremoniously ends his career.

Most days, we don’t win everything. Not everything goes the way we want. The overall tone is more lukewarm and ambivalent than we would like to admit. Of course, there are fantastic days where we feel on top of the world and days that are complete shitshows and we need to wipe the slate.

Those of us who suffer from depression, grief and tragedy, an abusive marriage, or other terrible circumstances, unfortunately, have more of the latter days than the former.

The truth is the vast majority of us experience a lot more consolation prizes than championships. It’s impossible to have major wins every single day. It’s impossible to get everything you want to be done or have every outcome you want.

Right now, I’m an educator in a middle management position, a law student, runner, writer, fiance, and friend. Trying to manage all these responsibilities is going as well as it can. It could be way worse.

If I weren’t an ambitious person, I wouldn’t pursue all these activities and invest so much into bettering myself so much. However, the fact is I set pretty ambitious goals all day. I have a certain amount of paperwork I want to get done for my job. I have a certain amount of cases I want to read for law school. I have a certain amount of miles I want to run per week. I won’t get too into the weeds, but you get the point.



Ryan Fan

Believer, Baltimore City IEP Chair, and 2:39 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Support me by becoming a Medium member: