Achievement, *deep sigh*. The idea obviously came from a conversation I recently had with a very good friend of mine. I was kind of explaining and kind of whining about this seemingly endless pickle I am in and the lack of discipline that sometimes prevents me from getting things done when I want them. In an effort to make me feel better, she began to remind me of everything I’ve accomplished until now and of the fact that I should not forget that or lose sight of it. Now, I am generally very bad with any kind of compliment or acknowledgment, in that I turn red, lower my head, act a little awkward and sometimes don’t even decently reply with a ‘thank you.’ Very rude, I know, but I can’t always help it. I also have a tendency to somewhat belittle my own achievements and I honestly don’t know why.
But what is my point? I will go extra primal on you and ask how we define an accomplishment and how does it define us? Deep, right? Well, I try.
When we are young, we get a golden star sticker every time we blow our nose, do well on a test, get our spelling right, sit quiet during class (something I never got a sticker for). According to my first grade teacher, Signora Bevelacqua I was a chiaccherona (a chatterbox), an achievement I kept being defined by until the end of my school days. As we get older our achievements get all the more intricate, time-consuming, thought-provoking, etc. But how would you personally define one? Is it an achievement to be clean and tidy, good at math, get good grades, get a scholarship, get into university, finish university, get married, have a family, raise a family, find a good job, and well, need I go on? If you ask me I would say that yes, all these are achievements, in the most general sense of the word, the most…global if you will. But if we want to go deeper we must consider what characterizes an achievement: is it the acquisition of something else that follows it? Is it maybe the acknowledgment that comes from the people around you? Could it be the personal satisfaction and confidence boost that is unavoidably a result of this achievement, which has however been defined as such by society? Apparently, it is all of that, and more.
As we get older, achievements are far more strictly defined, and even restricted by what majority considers worthy of praise, which either has to do with education, money, success, or money. Oh, and did I mention money? In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not one of those people that keep chanting ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’, which it most certainly cannot buy, but it sure as hell buys other things; lots of other things, which are essential and which do undoubtedly ameliorate one’s quality of life. But let’s not get off track. So the parameters are more or less specific to certain concepts, but my question is, can we successfully go beyond these? And to what extent do we allow ourselves to acknowledge and embrace our personal achievements as well as the achievements of others?
Don’t fret, I don’t even want to go into the subject of jealousy, envy, etc. What my question meant to say was basically, in our everyday reality, where so much is expected of us, and where we ask so much of ourselves, do we even, or ever, stop, even for a moment, to acknowledge, praise, and be happy for our own achievements and those of the people closest to us? Being always on the move, or better yet, the hunt, for the ‘next step’ (which becomes steeper every time), we often forget to take a few seconds and stop, turn around, and enjoy the view. And it’s a shame, truly. Because I’m telling you that if we did…the next step would not seem so overwhelming, and our self esteem and drive would not drop so low and so fast in the first sight of trouble.
So the next time you pack up your bags and embark on a new journey, take a look in your rear-view mirror first and remember who you are and what you have.