Do You Seek Praise? Or Punishment?
When you look at Theodora as a historical figure it's hard to imagine that an empress and saint would be someone who sought punishment over praise. Yet in Stella Duffy's Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore she was just such a person.
"I know you child, you crave attention, and you will take punishment and pain over praise because it feels bigger. It my hope that a larger stage will teach you the pleasure of praise. You will hurt too much otherwise. You must learn there is more to feeling than pain." p. 39
Praise versus punishment seems like an easy choice. Most of us would choose the praise... or at least we like to think we would. I can't help but understand, at least a little bit, why Theodora preferred the punishment and pain. We live in a society where everyone must be rewarded. The all the teams receive trophies. Every member of the class gets an award. In some areas kids are not allowed to fail grades. There is no failure, only praise.
In a world where everyone must succeed I can see choosing real punishment to false praise. It would feel more real. But I also know what it's like to seek praise, to wish that someone would compliment you on something because you are genuinely good at it.
There is a balance between praise and punishment, one that Theodora sought to find in the novel. I don't know that she completely succeeded in finding it. I think she still felt, much like Julia Robert's character in Pretty Woman, the bad stuff was easier to believe.
Do you seek praise? Or is the punishment easier to believe?