Big, Scary Questions
March 5, 2021
I was recently faced with the question: What is your greatest achievement?
I was almost paralyzed trying to figure out what my greatest achievement is. It felt like a pretty serious question for someone that’s only lived twenty-seven years of life.
The words alone sound big. Greatest. Achievement. As per usual, I started to break it down and question everything. What does greatest even mean? Is it what you’re most proud of? Is it what has received the most accolades? Is it the thing that’s the biggest “deal” in your life?
As per usual, I was taking a homework assignment to existential crisis level. It seemed somewhat unnecessary to put my psyche through this.
It was hard for me to understand exactly what I wanted to say. There are many things in life I’ve done that I’m proud of, but perhaps my greatest achievement thus far in my life is something that is not yet finished. My book.
I am still on the journey of finding a publisher for my manuscript, but it is perhaps the thing I am most proud of accomplishing thus far in my life. The time it took and the emotional rollercoaster it caused writing down the ins and outs of my life was an unforgettable experience and one I am incredibly proud of going through. Not only did I take the time to write it, but then I gave it to people for feedback…holy scariness.
Two editors and a proofreader later and learning not taking all of their criticism about my life story personally, I certainly have achieved something, but it feels unfinished because no publisher has given it the stamp of approval yet and so for me, there is a part of me that feels like I can’t call it my greatest achievement because it’s not yet finished/hasn’t been given the world’s approval.
Two things here:
1) Yes, I would love a publisher, but no, I don’t need anyone’s approval to tell my life story and
2) What if some of our greatest achievements are still our works in progress? What if we didn’t have to be finished with them to have them still be the greatest achievements of our lives thus far?
I add thus far to everything because I would be sad if my greatest achievement was something that I did when I was only twenty-seven…I certainly hope there’s more to come out there.
What if the journey is the achievement, the time, love, care, and effort we put in is the greatness. It’s not the box we check in achieving, but everything it took to get there. Because really isn’t that what makes the achievement an achievement?
Achievement can encapsulate so much more than the definition we’re used to. So let it. Be proud of what you’re achieving by waking up in the morning and doing what you do all day long, no matter what that is.
Instead of asking what our greatest achievement is, which is a freaking loaded question, let us ask what the things are that we are proud to do every day. Or ask what our most incredible journey has been.
I’m proud of more than what is just my achievements. One of the greatest things in life is not just what we achieve, but how we work to be ourselves and live our lives every single day sometimes against all odds.
Change those definitions. Reword the words. Do it your way. I’ve spent so long worrying that I’m doing the homework (by homework I mean life) right…maybe instead of worrying about that, I can just answer the way that’s best for me instead of trying to give everyone the answer I think they’re looking for.
You do you. Okay? Okay. I love you. XOXOX, CAMDW