ac-com-plish-ment (plural: accomplishments)
1. Something that has been achieved successfully.
2. The successful achievement of a task.
3. An activity a person can do well, typically as a result of study or practice.
4. Skill or ability in an activity.
Pulled straight from the dictionary, y’all.
Here’s my question: why are we so fucking hard on ourselves and on one another?
These are the definitions for the word “accomplishment”. This means that if we achieve something successfully, no matter how small or simple, it is an accomplishment. Yet, we as over-driving humans have to achieve everything ever possible ever to be accomplished.
1. highly trained or skilled
So now we have this definition. In order to call oneself “accomplished”, we must be highly trained or skilled, yet to perform an accomplishment, we need only to successfully achieve something. Not highly achieve something, just achieve it.
If I want to be an accomplished person who accomplishes things, I have to be highly skilled, trained, and successfully achieve something.
No, that’s not too much pressure or anything.
Let’s look at some of the winning photos I found when I Googled “accomplishment”.
Very true, Mr. Armstrong. Neil Armstrong, the first person ever to walk on our moon, has a valid point. You have to take a lot of fucking risks to achieve great accomplishment. But there’s that emphasis again on something being great. It can’t be simple, or basic, or even satisfactory.
The word “satisfactory” in a job review or report card indicates “not good enough”. Why?
Okay, this one’s a little more obvious, but yes, you must try to accomplish something. Trying is what’s important in this phrase, not the accomplishment itself. So, why are we so hellbent on consistently winning and achieving greatness?
It makes sense that this image would come up under “accomplishment”, because they are synonymous. But look at this fucking thing. A trophy shooting rainbow stars: that’s success. Not a quiet, simple pat on the back or smile. RAINBOW STARS OUT OF A TROPHY GO GO GO SUCCESS SUCCESS SUCCESS.
I had to Google who Philip K. Howard is. He is a lawyer and author who specializes in “the effects of modern law and bureaucracy on human behavior and the workings of society”. Okay, now this is someone who I want to hear from. Self-consciousness is the enemy of accomplishment.
This makes fucking sense to me.
If I am too nervous or worried to try something, or I am too scared of failure, I am not going to try. No matter how beautifully simple my task, I will not accomplish it if I am scared.
Thank you, Mr. Howard. You get it.
(YouTube him and check out some of his ideas. He’s what some people might call “a fucking nut”, but from what I see, I’m a fan of his education theories.)
Okay, so here I am. I’m almost 26 years old. I’ve graduated with a Masters from DePaul. I’m working two jobs, both as a substitute teacher (sidenote: if you’ve never been a substitute, it can be massively stressful. I got my Masters to work with high school, and I’ve had to spend the day teaching 9 year olds who scream at one another.)
I have another job which I’m starting in two weeks as a tutor.
I will have three jobs soon.
They all pay pretty well, but not nearly as well as a full-time salaried teacher.
I still rely somewhat on my family to help me when I need extra money for rent or bills. But, I’m breaking away from that.
I don’t have health insurance from any of these jobs, and I’m still waiting on Obamacare.
I’m getting married in three months, and we’re moving to a new neighborhood in six months.
I am moving forward. I am trying so fucking hard. I am doing all that I can to get my name out there to get a full time job.
I often feel like I’m not accomplishing quite enough.
Why is that?
Is it a product of my society?
Americans are all about the go-go-go and the absolute necessity to be the best. Women don’t make as much money as men, but white people make more than anybody else. We certainly are given the “golden opportunity” talk all throughout adolescence. “If you can dream it, you can do it!” But, that’s not true. And it’s okay that that’s not true. Just because you can’t be an astronaut or millionaire does not mean you’ve failed your dreams.
Is it a product of my environment?
My family pushed me to go to grad school. I didn’t have much of a choice. But, my grandparents and mom paid my entire graduate school tuition. I left DePaul debt-free. This isn’t something I talk about openly, because it’s nobody’s business, but I’m incredibly lucky. But, because I went to grad school, now there is tremendous pressure on me to accomplish so much. Aren’t I doing so already?
Is it a product of my friends?
I didn’t have a job throughout most of grad school, because I had to perform over 140 hours of observations at different schools on top of going to class. It wasn’t feasible for me to do both. Some people can do it, and that’s fucking awesome. But I couldn’t. Because of this, I often was pretty broke. My friends all have jobs and are all working hard. Not all of them have a Masters, but they have more money than me. Do I measure my accomplishments by the amount of money I have?
It seems to me that the answer to all of these questions is “yes”. And because it’s “yes” to all, the answer to the next question is also a “yes”:
Is it a product of my own self-consciousness?
I compare myself to others, I get compared to others, it’s only natural. I wish it weren’t. I wish we could all just look inside ourselves and find our own measurement of success and be elated to achieve it.
But that’s not how it works.
I have to find my own success, regardless of what this looks like to others.
And you know what?
In my mind, I’m kicking ass.
This song perfectly describes me, especially the very last line.
We should all be the exactly the person that we want to be, no matter what.