I graduated from the 7th Army NCO Academy on the Comandant’s list. Not only did I have a GPA above 90%, but I also achieved a first time GO on all of my practical skill tasks. It was an achievement unlocked. I proved to myself that I could achieve a goal.
From that point on, achievement was my goal. When I started attending college classes again, I aced my courses. After Active Duty, I joined the Reserves and managed to qualify for Language School. Although distracted, I still managed to graduate with honors. My life became a series of goals.
I moved back to California, got into the non-profit sector and decided I wanted to be an Executive Director. After earning a Bachelor’s degree and attending Grad School, that finally happened. I got involved in the community and local politics. I did all this while raising my kids, believing I was giving them an inspirational example. I was caught up in the image of myself I created.
On paper, online, I looked great. But I was neglectful of my family, my friends and of myself. Everything I did was to feed this achievement beast I felt like I was only pretending to be. I was only checking off boxes.
I wanted to be taken seriously, thought of with respect and really make a difference. But the achievement became more important than the work. I lost track of what I was about and things started to unravel.