Drawing a line between ‘life accomplishments’ and ‘things we write on our résumés’

With the progressing development that advances the way society thinks about and perceives one’s success, it really is impossible to not include “having a secure job, promising career, and a happy, wealthy family” into our own definition of success. Particularly for those who, throughout their lives, have been lucky enough to be exposed in privileged environments that praise high levels of education and surrounded by well-educated people who seem to be really driven in making the world a better place.

Which is a great thing, I believe. It provides all the motivation to really build the world into a better space for all living creatures to live in. Either by competing with one another to achieve more goals, or by gathering with similar-minded people to brainstorm together to reach such purposes. Nothing seems to be wrong up to here.

But then, it can get dangerous as well. Particularly in the era where mental health-triggered problems have been regularly appearing on the headlines, and where we could easily keep track of other people’s “achievements” that they openly share across social media. The danger is not about how we can handle the potential jealousy and envy that might arise, but rather, how we can handle looking at ourselves after those images that those other people create have been influencing our perspectives.

The danger is the change in how we value ourselves, and how we can perceive our “actual” accomplishments as to not be confused with “curated” accomplishments that we might display on our resumes. The danger is when we tend to begin to think that our lives are only worth remembering when we have done and got enough to showcase on our LinkedIn page, for instance.

In this era, we might sometimes forget to appreciate ourselves for all the things that we’ve endured to get to where we are. Even the ones that are not directly relevant to our resumes. It’s because we might think that what matters is only what’s written on our resume, which seems to be our only ticket to achieve all those society-defined standards of success aforementioned. It is not. There is a huge difference between our actual accomplishments, versus all the results that we’d be able to showcase on our resume.

Somebody might have gone through some really dark times, and yet they’ve survived, alive. Those might be the things that somebody else with more bullets and dots or paragraphs on their resume never, or can never survive. Somebody might have their CV really polished with all the shiny, sparkly awards and honors, but somebody else who has been working their asses off, day and night, just to earn the slightest amount of education from a local college where their only shot lies is no less respectable. To me, the highlights of my life are probably taking risks to explore the lust of wilderness inside of me, by taking both figurative and literal roads less taken and going for solo adventures, also both figuratively and literally. To you, these might be not as impressive as someone who finishes their PhD by the age of 25 for example, but I knew what I had to surpass to be able to do these things, and thus these are absolutely no less important.

Just because some of the most significant things that happened throughout your life cannot be written on your resume, doesn’t mean they’re any less significant.

There might be no space to write out how you survived depression and came out much stronger on your LinkedIn page. There might be no ways to explain how you were once a bullied, ugly duckling back in high school yet you came out becoming Forbes’ top powerful women list (except if you really want to spill the bean on your cover letter?). Or even things such as building all the IKEA furniture for your apartment all by yourself, overcome your laziness to instead begin exploring more hobbies, be stubborn enough to get justice done for you, and et cetera. All these things, no matter how simple or quirky, that secretly make you very proud of yourself, yet nobody notices. But you do. And it always only takes you, the owner of your very life, to regard yourself with the worthiness that you deserve.

It is a bit of a shame that the way life works makes us think that the most important accomplishments are those worth pointing out on our resume. Sometimes it makes us chase for things that are going to make us look great on paper, or LinkedIn, above all else; without really considering if our motivation was even sincere and not corrupt. (And I will be posting more on this later.) But more importantly, always know that you have done a lot to get to wherever you are at, and it is something plausible and special, because not everyone else might even be able to even if they had the chance.

Your resume does not define what you’re worth because it might not even come close to covering the best highlights of your life. Things that make you special, that make you triumph even above all preceding tears. Your experiences, and real stories, are exclusive to you not because it is not worth telling anybody else about–but because everyone’s got their own angels and demons and we cannot, nor should, compare ours with others.

But you is enough.

Written by

A geologist, self-taught photographer, hobbyist writer, and wanderer who loves subtle colours, sunrays, mother nature, wilderness, adventures, flowers in the afternoon, quiet corners of a city, being literally - yet not figuratively - on top of the world, solo travels, trips by train, fascinating rocks, vintage postcards, and aesthetically pleasing urban landscapes.

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