The Achievement Addiction

Welcome to 2019 – year of new possibilities and opportunities which we had in 2018 also! Perhaps now it’s time for me to stop looking at the tick of a clock to take my heed, and start taking life into my own hands? Let’s see how 2019 unfolds.

The Achievement Addiction

Do you have life goals? Odds are, you do. Whether they’re to win a Nobel prize or become a parent, no goal is more noble or worthy than another.

As a chronically ambitious person, I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals as of late. And trying my hardest to stop seeing ambition as a strictly Slytherin trait.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how few of my goals I’ve achieved. As you might imagine, this is a rather mental depressing rabbit hole to start down.

I have said from the age of six that I want to be a writer. As I’ve grown, that definition has changed. At six, being a writer to me meant rewriting books that already existed and questioning why I wasn’t famous. Now, I want to write fiction, poetry, non-fiction Autobiographical books – but I also relish the joy of writing academically and presenting papers at conferences. 

Maybe it’s just the approach of the end of the year that has me feeling somewhat uneasy, but I started reflecting on my 2018 achievements. A terrible, irresistible habit.

  • As if a list of green ticks, somehow validates my existence on the earth. This is what I came up with:
  • I took part in another London conference and helped in the organisation of it, and presented an original story and paper there that was well received.

    I finished another fiction novel. And at the time of writing this, I am about five chapters off finishing another. 

    I maintained my health well enough to be able to not only work full-time but also do a masters at the same time. 

    You might think that’s pretty good going. I know that at least 20% of the time, I’d agree with you. 

    What do I think for the other 80% of the time?

    As I made that list in my mind I also asked myself these questions:

    You took part in one conference – why not two? Or five?

    Two books written on top of another third sounds good but why aren’t they published? Where are you going to find time to edit them to submit them? 

    A masters that is in an academic field. Not a creative one. Just a distraction from the goal. Of publishing and living creatively – shameful.

    What hideous, toxic thoughts.

    Yet there are moments, luckily most moments now, that feel like the end of a night out with your best friends. When you’re all together for the last song and the lights go up, you’re grinning and feeling victorious. It might be alcohol but it feels insatiable all the same. Like you’ll never get enough of feeling this good.

    All of 2018 wasn’t like that for me. But a damn good portion of it was. 

    Better yet, even in the moments when there was no group around me and no one smiling back, I felt as if I finally understood that my crown had been bought and paid for simply by my existence. All I had to do was wear it. 

    With that mentality, an acknowledgement that no piece of paper or sound of a clapping, cheering crowd will be enough, I made a new list. A better, happier list for 2018.

    In 2018:

    I celebrated knowing and adoring my best friend for ten years and I was reminded that it is a privilege to be heard, even in our silent moments by those who know us truly. 

    I organised a family reunion with people from across the globe who hadn’t seen each other in twenty years. The monstrous effort was worth every beating moment.

    Opportunity after opportunity fell into my lap with minimal work, outside of my mindset. 

    I cried with happiness in the middle of Eyre Square and it felt blissful, not shameful. 

    Joyfully, I stop persecuting myself for needing quiet time and fictional worlds to depend on – to escape to. And have had much more peace since. 

    After years of poor health, my doctor’s results were among the best he’d seen in his career. 

    I stopped seeing a difference between the little girl I was, the one with big hopes and wild ideas, and the woman I am. Suddenly, it became impossible to treat myself badly. 

    That list is entirely tangible and noteworthy. I can only hope that by the time we are facing 2020, I will no longer feel the need for lists at all. I can only hope the very same for you. 

    Until then, until we no longer need a new year for resolutions and goals, I pray only happiness will fill our days. 

    Write soon, 

    Jennifer x

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