So, when I first started and was at a meeting (which, in part, was for the founding of Sylvan Glen) and folks were explaining the SCA to us, we heard all about Knights and Laurels and Pelicans. But seriously, all I heard was _Knights_. Why? Because one of my draws for the SCA was the idea of armored combat and Knights in shining armor.
I listened in awe and was delighted when told that women could fight too! I said, then and there, "I want to be a Knight!"
Well, I never did don armor (bought some once, but that is another story), and would not have put that level of work into it anyways, but it was an amazing temporary dream that initially helped propel me forward in this hobby.
Back then (this was 30 years ago), you REALLY did not say you wanted to be a Peer (though it was easier to say you wanted to be a Knight than to belong to one of the other orders... sexist much???). I am very glad that no one told me in that moment that I shouldn't say that, because I might have opted out from all of this to start.
And yes, for a very, very long time I DID believe that it was not OK to say you wanted to be a Pelican or a Laurel. All of this sort of was equated in my mind with typically thankless work like being a mother or teacher or caretaker. (Again, sexist much????)
I was wrong to propagate those ideas then, even though I wasn't exactly going around telling people that.
I am, however, taking a stand now. See, I understand what the OP here is saying about perception, and how people will judge you based on words uttered, but the fact is, that is something we _have_ to change. I disagree with the fact that it was ever a thing and it Needs. To. Stop.
If you happen to be the one "judging" someone by the fact that they said they want to be a Peer, just stop that nonsense. It is not your pace to do so, EVEN if you are a member of the Order in question.
Why? Because what someone DOES is what matters. Period. Someone might just be new, or enthusiastic. No one should have to tailor a simple statement the make, because NO ONE should be reacting to that more than the actual actions.
You know what else? The person making that statement also might be neurodiverse, and expecting them to utter a phrase in a specific way in order for you to correctly "read" their "intent" is beyond wrong on your part. I confess, I used to be in this camp as well, and, looking back, I realize how intimidating it it could be.
And finally? It is not anyone's job to try to ascertain someone's motives (this was the most important lesson I learned from my Laurel). Chances are if you are doing that, you will be wrong. And that is not fair to the potential candidate OR the Order. Just stop. Further, if you hear someone remarking on potential motives of a candidate, TELL THEM TO STOP.
When all is said and done, what are the actions the person is taking? What are they showing, sharing and doing? Are they inspiring others? Look at those things as those are the things that matter. Your preconceived notion of their "motive" has no relevance here.
Is it possible someone is only doing something for an award? Yes, but it is not up to anyone else to determine that. If the work is there, and the PLQs are there, and they are inspiring others, that is all you get to go on when making that recommendation to the Crown. Work from the hard evidence and not what is likely just a reflection your own internal experiences or biases.
And for anyone out there who wants to be a Peer? Go ahead, tell me that. I might even talk to you further about it, and, if you are interested in next steps (though who can say whether they will eventually lead you to that moment) it I might even have advice to help you become better at your art or research.
What I won't do is tell you not to have a dream. What I won't do is till you not to say you want to be a Peer. What I might do is try to help you up your own personal game. What I will do is cheer you on in your personal successes.