Someone recently asked me what my proudest achievement is. A fairly innocuous question, I’m sure you’ll agree, and yet I went dead silent. This is a person I have no trouble talking with for three or four hours at a time every single day, yet this one question had me stumped. I could not think of a single thing in my 27 years on this planet that was worth mentioning. Not one single thing that I felt I had achieved that was worth anything.
It was a sobering thought.
I can acknowledge that there are plenty of things I have done in my life that may deserve some modicum of celebration. I broke a world record twice in one day for example, I’ve earned money off this little space on the internet albeit a very small sum, I passed my art foundation degree and I survived living in London for 3 years – but none of these things seemed important or impressive enough to be described as my proudest achievement. In my mind, getting a first class degree from Oxford or discovering a new species is something to be proud of. Becoming a self-made millionaire or successfully finding the cure to a disease. Publishing a book or getting a record deal, selling out a venue with your band or creating a successful clothing line. Those are things to be celebrated, but what had I done that was worth putting focus on?
Well, not a lot really.
It was after some moments of quiet introspection that I had the realisation that your proudest achievement doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t even have to be life-changing, and in that moment I realised how hard on myself I can actually be. I wax lyrical on this blog about the huge changes I’ve been making to my life in 2019 and yet despite moving mountains I haven’t celebrated them properly, not once. I was quite shocked at myself for how little I’ve acknowledged the progress I’ve made. So then I realised what my proudest achievement is:
12 months ago I hit rock bottom. I was signed off from work with stress, my anxiety and stress levels were so bad that I was lucky if I could keep one meal a day inside me. I was so close to having to declare bankruptcy (and not through my spending habits I just want to make clear, or for any irresponsible money management but through a situation occurring elsewhere in my life) and I was trying to juggle all this alongside keeping my job in London, attempting to see my friends and regularly updating my blog and social media channels and generally keep up appearances. I was a wreck. I was lost. I had no sense of self-identity anymore. I felt paranoid that my friends didn’t want me around any longer, I was worried I was angering everyone and I just didn’t know what to do or how to cope. I was also harbouring a lot of emotional and psychological baggage from my childhood and teenage years that I simply hadn’t dealt with and I realised that I couldn’t carry on this way any longer.
So I got help. I took steps to manage my mental health, I went self-employed to reduce some of the work related stresses in my life, and I really took stock of where I was in life and what I needed to do to get to where I wanted to be. I realised who my true friends are, I began to cherish them a lot more and in turn the support I got from them was astounding. I couldn’t have done any of this without my support network.
It’s been a long 12 months, and a hard 12 months, but I have come through it a completely different person. I have truly discovered who I am, and it’s liberating. I’ve received help for past traumas and I’m regularly speaking to a counsellor to help me deal with everything else I’m still working through. I’m starting to exercise again. I’ve grown this blog and my Instagram and Youtube more than I ever have in any year before. I’ve discovered my true personal style and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing around with social media as a means to document this. I’ve earned more than ever before, I’ve had incredible opportunities through both my client work and my blog work, and it’s been liberating to be able to do all of this off my own back.
I might not have achieved world peace or won an Oscar. I may not have made huge environmental changes or single-handedly campaigned for a social cause but my proudest achievement right now is myself. Is the changes I’ve made to my own life, the growth I’ve experienced as a person over the past 12 months and the opportunities I have received off the back of this.
I only wish I’d done this years ago, but it’s never too late to make changes and I’m excited to see what else 2019 has in store for me.
If you, like me, struggle to see your successes take the time one day to just sit and sift through everything you’ve done over the years. Whether it’s something huge or something small there is something there that is worth being proud about, there is an achievement there worth celebrating – even if it’s the simple fact that you’re still here, waking up every morning and pushing forward with your life despite what the world throws at you. In fact, that should be the most celebrated achievement of all!