It was a hot afternoon in my hometown Santiago, Dominican Republic. I heard someone yell my name from outside, and when I peaked through the window I saw my whole baseball team including my coach. I ran and threw some shoes on, and rushed to meet them outside. After the common and informal salutation coach told me that the team just got a new player and now they were a uniform short . . . so he asked me to return mine. Stories like these seemed normal – until I moved to the USA and realized how raw things were back home. I never got promoted or praised without first proving my worth. I don’t remember many adults coming to games to cheer, and I certainly never ever saw anyone getting a trophy just for participation. In fact, it was often the contrary. Adults teasing and making fun of kids, coaches telling you point blank to choose another sport and stop wasting everyone’s time, and whole teams coming after your uniform so someone with real talent could make better use of it. And you know what? I’m grateful for it. I appreciated being told that I wasn’t good at certain things. Besides my grandma, no one told me that I could do anything I wanted in life nor that I could reach the stars. I knew that some things weren’t for me, and it was my decision to drop it or shape up and work my tail off to achieve it- and I’m glad for it. Self-esteem should never trump truth. Hard cold reality actually tends to foster initiative, discipline and achievement. Let effort, as opposed to entitlement, take care of self-esteem. That way we will avoid inflated egos, unrealistic expectations and narcissistic behaviors. Please notice that I am not endorsing humiliation or verbal abuse. I am making a case for down-to-earth realistic criticism that in turn catalyzes itself into action. Our value comes as an inalienable gift from our Creator. This gift has absolutely nothing to do with our performance, but with our heavenly citizenship in Christ. As for our time here on earth, let us do our best, realize our shortcomings, and put in the necessary work in order to succeed — even if you have to give up your uniform at the end of the day.