Many times have I been respectful to my teachers and peers just as social courtesy. When you receive that respect back, however, it tends to stick with you. Being acknowledged as an important (or just worthy) person goes a long way.

As a young teen, I was at an athletic event with my peers and many older teens, as well as some adults. We were partaking in the games and although I was a younger guy, I was able to hold my own quite well. Even as a decent player, I had little confidence because of the fact that I was younger and seemingly lesser than the rest of the people there. Eventually, a ball popped up at the touchline of the field and I set it down with a beautiful touch. I quickly rolled it over, faked a pass, spun around it and slid it between some unlucky boy’s legs. In the moment, it was just a crucial intervention, stealing the ball from the opposition and feeding it up to the strikers.

However, it was not just a turn of possession. After the game, I walked to the bench and got a pat on the back from one of the big guys, who complimented me on the clean footwork. I later got a bit of praise from the coach, too, and a few of the spectators approached me after and held up a short conversation on my playing. It was incredible. I was not the little guy anymore. I earned the respect of some of the older guys, my coach, and many people who would watch me for years to come. I could see my own smile even without looking in the mirror as pride echoed off of me.

The most important part, however, was yet to come. A talented player that I looked up to constantly came by me and told me something different. He looked at me and said something along the lines of, “I’m impressed with how you dealt with that praise. It hasn’t gotten to your head, and you aren’t boasting. Keep it up, man.” It was one of the better lessons I learned. I had gotten respect from the guy I respected the most and that meant a lot. It has kept me confident, but not overly confident.

When you get respect, you stay up.

And when you give it, you keep yourself in check.

—White Mountains Regional High School