Updated June 2020
I’ve never been one to talk about my accomplishments. I always struggle with that question when people ask me. I get really embarrassed and then my mind goes blank. Have I accomplished anything?
It also becomes especially difficult to think about my personal achievements when my mental health isn’t great. Depression and anxiety have a way of making you feel like an underachiever, especially compared to everyone you see on social media.
Why think about your personal achievements?
Every once in awhile, when I’m feeling down or stressed (or preparing for job interviews), I make myself think about my personal achievements. I need to be reminded of how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished, especially when nothing comes to mind naturally.
It’s an effective exercise because often you forget how far you’ve come in life. If you’re looking at your current life with a narrow lens, everything seems to exist in a vacuum. It’s only when you step back that you can see how each achievement, no matter how big or small, has helped you get to where you are today.
Note: This post was first written in 2015. Now, halfway through 2020, I’m looking back at my personal achievements because I need to be reminded that I’m not a failure. I hope you take a few minutes to reflect on your personal achievements and see how far you’ve come.
Graduating high school
High school was the first period of my life where I wasn’t outright bullied by classmates. It is tough for everyone in different ways and I’m glad I made it out alive, with great friends and many great experiences.
Going to college away from home
I really wanted to get out of my hometown for college, both for independence and a change of pace. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I had to deal with many strange illnesses and injuries by myself, learn about my anxiety and learn to love driving 600 miles in one trip! I also had the opportunity to fall in love with a different part of the States and meet some amazing people.
Living in Paris for a summer
Living in Paris for one summer was my second time abroad but my first time abroad for a long period of time. I lived with a host family who didn’t speak English, so I experienced real culture shock and true immersion. In the end, I fell in love with the city and got the chance to fall in love with France.
Being [almost] fluent in French
Thanks to my summer abroad and my host family’s lack of knowledge of English, I became almost fluent in French. It has always been my goal lifelong goal to learn a language other than English and I’m proud of the work I put in to get to my current level.
Living in London for a year (and surviving British academics)
When I chose to study abroad in London, I had never been there before. I took a huge leap of faith and left my comfort zone, hoping for the best. Five years after being back and I have no regrets.
While in London, I attended The London School of Economics. With a completely different academic style than that of the US, I was very worried about how I would adapt, but after a few months, I grew to love and thrive in the more independent system!
Despite starting out great, the four years of college were some of the hardest years of my life thus far. Anxiety, depression, intense academics, and social pressures challenged me more than I knew possible. There were several periods of time where I didn’t know if I would continue at my school, let alone graduate from it. But four years and two theses later, I made it!
Visiting 16 countries
I didn’t leave America until I was 18, and when I did I only went to Paris. Since my first trip abroad in 2012, I have traveled to 16 countries and countless cities as a student and as a young professional with a full-time job. Travel has become a major aspect of my life and I can’t imagine it any other way.
Starting my blog
This blog has saved my sanity. I have been able to organize my thoughts, share my experiences with friends and family, and gain a favorite hobby that I hope to continue for as long as possible. I might not always update it regularly, especially if I’m going through periods of depression or extreme anxiety, but it’s my little corner of the internet and I love it.
Managing my mental health
Anxiety has always been a part of my life, but it really became a major aspect of my daily living in 2013. Despite setbacks here and there, I’ve found ways to manage my anxiety and ensure that it doesn’t stop me from traveling. Depression became a part of my life in 2015 and rears its head occasionally. I am proud of myself for handling two sometimes debilitating mental illnesses and cultivating a group of people who support me when times are tough.
Knowing my worth
At the beginning of the year, I left an abusive and toxic job. For one year, I saw my knowledge undermined by people who knew nothing about my job. I was told I was a terrible writer. I was blocked from getting meaningful work done. Jokes about women were made at my expense. I was too anxious at work every day to eat properly; I lost a lot of weight. And after I made attempts to remedy the situation at the company which didn’t have HR, I said goodbye. It was probably one of my biggest accomplishments in life thus far, even though it meant stepping back and not moving forward professionally.