To me achievement is an obsolete word, it has no meaning if you don’t believe it. I’m twenty-one years of age and despite knowing I have a lot to be proud of I struggle to list them. I spent years struggling to work out who I was, what my talents were and what I was meant to do with myself. I still don’t truly know. I have things that matter a lot to me, but are they achievements? I don’t exactly know.
I previously mentioned I wasn’t a good student; I feel like most people who say that usually mean a B or C student, but I was an E or U student and my A Level results were a testament to that. Academics never mattered to me, I remember telling myself over and over again on results days that I was more than a few letters on a piece of paper. I lied to myself, I had to use my A Level grades applying to my masters and the weeks I waited for a response was some of the worst weeks of my life. I know in ten years after I have both an undergraduate and postgraduate degree, I will look back on my A Levels and realise they didn’t mean anything. But they still do now and I’m terrified that they could stop me from getting a career in the future.
Finishing my degree was supposed to be the biggest achievement of my life so far, instead I submitted my final essay alone with a cup of tea in the middle of lockdown. The day I was supposed to walk the stage graduating fell on the same week as my Grandma’s memorial. I know that I will get another chance to graduate probably in 2021, the same year I will graduate from my postgraduate degree but without the ceremony it doesn’t feel real that I completed university, so I don’t think it is one of my greatest achievements.
Jobs, I’ve worked nine jobs since I was sixteen years old. Without all of that experience I don’t think I’d be half as confident as I am, and I am still very unconfident. Working as much as I have over the years opened my eyes, it showed my patience, my strengths and most importantly my weaknesses. I believe knowing your weaknesses is one of the most valuable things; I know that I have my bad days and on those I can be a bit hard to deal with. I know that I like to do things quickly and efficiently, a job I had a few years back used to test my patience with how long it took some staff to close down a bar. An hour and a half to close a 3-metre bar is RIDICULOUS. My CV is definitely one of my favourite achievements, I do not believe I would be the woman I am had I not gone through every single one of those jobs. Some of my jobs tested my patience, but that’s to be expected as you’re not always around people who don’t have the same work ethic as I do.
Mental Health, I never thought I’d ever be so open about my mental health journey or even be able to tell my friends let alone write about it continuously and do talks to hundreds of people. I’m receiving continuous messages from people who I never expected to have listened to what I said let alone that it has had an impact on their lives and their growth. It truly stuns me and I’m so grateful every day that I get to speak out and help even by just openly standing up and signing over everything I’ve locked up for so long. I will never ever achieve something that is greater than this, the impact I’ve had on myself is enough to cry let alone on others.
Off the back I can say those are my main achievements; my education, employment and mental health journey. My education achievements don’t end there and I am currently in the stages of sorting out a thesis proposal for my PhD application and I’m working through my master’s now. I’m also looking into future jobs and making my lists ready for the future, I’m finally ready to make it out in the big world. I’m also certain my mental health journey is nowhere near over, and I hope I continue to speak out even if things get rough again. I hope I’ve learnt better than to keep things bottled in, but time will tell if I have or not.
I’d say the biggest achievement is quite universal, no matter who you are or your personal journey. The fact that you and I are still alive and living every day is incredible. That is an achievement in itself. Some days I feel like that’s the only thing I have going for me, the fact I am still alive and kicking and after years of battling with myself I can genuinely say that is worth it. No matter how things are going I know that just being alive in itself is a big enough achievement to keep me going. I don’t know how I’ve escaped death the amount of times I have but there is probably something keeping me here and I can’t wait to find that out.
So, if I had some final words of encouragement. Every day you wake up and no matter how the day goes whether it’s good or bad you have survived it and even if you don’t make it out of bed (because I know I have those days or weeks) the fact you are alive is achievement enough. People often list things they do and finish it with ‘I’ve done all this and what have you done?’- life isn’t a competition to see how productive and motivated you are daily. The simplest of tasks can be so difficult and I think people turn the stupidest of things into a competition. I sometimes find myself on social media in a low moment and seeing people doing so much, getting on with their lives worsens my moods and it takes me a while before I realise that people only post their good moments. Not many people post when they haven’t moved from bed for days as things are tough or when they are having a low/manic moment and I think that’s the biggest con with social media. No one’s life is perfect but the way we act you’d think it was, I think that’s why I spend less and less time on it nowadays.
Anyway, here I am twenty-one years old with a small list of achievements that I hope grow and grow as the years go on. Hopefully anyone reading this will take time to congratulate themselves on their incredible achievements, and if you feel like you don’t have any just know that’s completely rubbish and being alive is an achievement in itself.