We accomplish so much in a day, so much growth over time, so much healing and changing and personal ascension… and yet, that stuff doesn’t always seem like it’s socially worthy of celebrating.
Accomplishment isn’t all cars and homes and dollars and other stuff that it gets culturally wrapped up in… and isn’t about followers, fame, titles, relationships or anything else…
Huge things like overcoming a phobia of flying on a plane or learning to become more vulnerable in relationships or anything of that less clearly quantifiable nature to some people tends to get un-celebrated while life focuses us on the more “concrete” aspects of things.
I know many people who have accomplished so very much in overcoming fears, panic, trauma and much more… things that many people don’t dare to face in a lifetime… and because they may not have a big job or a huge career mission or a home or children or things of that nature, they start to feel “unaccomplished” even though their accomplishments are so enormous.
Do you realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished? It’s an enormous shift in perspective from looking at how far you need to go or how much you may perceive you lack in certain areas, and like all positive shifts in perspective, it’s really self-reinforcing & awesome energy for your whole life…!
Last night I had the most pleasant surprise. A friend from High School who I hadn’t seen since graduation – though I’d chatted with online several times in the last 2 years- came unexpectedly to Los Angeles. It was super-fun, like nothing had changed… though nearly everything had changed!
Toward the end of dinner we started chatting about people in our class and what they were up to (I have no idea living so far away and rarely ever in New Jersey)… and about our old days of competitive debating in New Jersey (she was my debate team partner, we were pretty good 🙂 ) … And I realized that there was a whole stretch of time in High School that I forgot about for a long time.
I said something like… “whoa, I really only remember a few bits and pieces of that whole year…” And of course, it occurred to me that for a year while we were competing in our debates I was so taken over by anorexia (which was just as little-understood then as it is now) and all I could say was “I am so glad I got out of that situation. I didn’t think I would get out of it.”
I wasn’t expecting to remember that. I hadn’t even spoken about this in a decade to anyone who knew me then. It didn’t occur to me that it would even come up its ben so far out of my mind…
She agreed. She didn’t know if I would get out of it either at the time. Sobering truth.
My one major memory in school was wearing a blazer (required) that was covered in my hair falling out from the final epic ten pound weight loss that put me in real jeopardy. An episode of blacking out and staying home from school for a week shortly after that – at 82 or 83 pounds- marked a big turning point toward a long road to recovering.
I explained that I rarely talk about the eating disorder era I lived through because I found my way out of it in a way I can’t quantify and it took about 10 years to really be done (through lots of different modes and methods and explorations and life work) and it’s something that never occurs to me any more likely because I don’t really feel like that was me any more…
See, it’s hard for me to even quantify or try to explain that whole time in sentences (it felt more like being in a black hole) … but I do remember that step-by-step, decision-by-decision I made my way through it and I backslid at times and then kept going forward again… And, I do remember milestones along the way to recovering if I think back. But… I never acknowledged it much because with things that are mental, emotional and misunderstood there isn’t a whole lot of fanfare surrounding recovery at times, at least not where I grew up. It was more a sense that I was broken when this was active in my life and that fixing myself was just getting myself “back to normal.”
“Why celebrate normal?” was the general sentiment around me as a kid.
Basically, I shortchanged myself a huge accomplishment and felt like I “wasted” ten years trying to become “normal.” It was that work on my own self in those ten years that made me who I am today in the best ways possible.
I realized, really, how far I’d come as a person sitting at that table in a way I didn’t see before.
And today, I feel different. I feel far more accomplished than my step-by-step growth shows me on a daily basis.
I am betting that in many ways you’ve come a long way through challenges and in creative growth.
Instead of looking at the ideal-images on Facebook, the perfect pictures, the wild adventures on Instagram and the best of the best of people championed everywhere…
Can you see how much you’ve grown in your own personal, emotional, mental, spiritual ways? Quieter ways. Ways that you know about yourself and maybe no one else knows about you…?
I’m really great at celebrating all the time these days, but I missed out on celebrating a decade worth of work that is likely the most mysteriously powerful personal stuff I have ever done. And now, I am. Big time.
You may not live around people who believe that your personal growth or tending to mental health or self-care or anything else is an accomplishment… but celebrate it for yourself because it’s an enormous accomplishment.
I don’t say many things definitively but this one I’m sure of:
It doesn’t matter what anyone else does, has, says or feels… what matters is that you are well and that you are always proud of how far you’ve come.
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