Sunday, April 3, 2011

Crisis of Self

I met someone a few days ago who challenged my sense of satisfaction with my accomplishments. At roughly my age, this person has obtained a doctorate in a challenging field, published papers, taught at a university, and is an active and acknowledged contributor in a related field. When, I wonder, do they sleep?

Up until I read their bio, I felt pretty good about myself with my service to country, honours in college and shiny new career. For a short time after, though, I felt that it was a pretty pitiful pile of accomplishments. Their acts are writ large on the stage of the world, and mine are far more humble. I yearned for the kind of greatness I saw in the deeds of this person.

This little crisis of self lasted a whole day or two until I realized that although my doings were far less public and attributable, they were no less important; by participating in peacekeeping missions, I have in a small way contributed to the stability of the world in general. By serving my country, Queen and government, I have protected and defended Canada's interests in a rather direct way.

We have both made our contributions to the world, and neither is less valid than the other. Having realized this, though, I also came to the realization that academic success is still something I crave; college is by no means the end of my scholastic journey.


Aline said...

love the new skin!
...and I agree about the journey, it's only the beginning. Good to meet someone that inspires and that stirs up a whole new perspective :)

Susan said...

Thanks, Aline! I thought it was time for a change. :)
It really *did* give me a new perspective; I'm glad that I had a little think about those issues. **hugs**

Arzu said...

I think a lot depends on how you measure accomplishment. The impact of your life is far more than just a list of things you have done. There are a small number of people who change the world through something like a revolutionary idea e.g. the invention of the printing press. However, for the bulk of the population, the impact of our lives isn't something that can be given a convenient metric and tabulated. A great deal of your accomplishments are reflected in how you influence those around you. Your life and your friendship has made contributions to my life even if it's not something you can see or measure. That is something very valuable. As these ripples of influence spread outwards, they can change the very fabric and culture of a society.

Though, I also wholeheartedly support the continuation of your academic journey. Join me in perpetual studenthood, hehe ;)

Susan said...


I understand the subtle impact that we all have on others, and sometimes not so subtle. I get that, but I am an accountant at heart and want to see clear tallies.

I appreciate your thoughtful comment, and your friendship.

Velda said...

I couldn't have said it any better than Arzu. I've regretted not continuing my education. I've regretted not travelling more. I have many more regrets than that. But in the last year and a half since my terminal diagnosis, I have finally realized that I have given enough of myself to make a difference in at least one person's life to have been worthwhile, and that's all that really matters to me.

As for you, you keep on doing what you're doing. I can feel your joy as you accomplish one more step in your education and one more mile of travelling to magical places...many people don't have that opportunity. You are a very lucky and determined woman to have accomplished what you have so far and don't see you stopping anytime soon! Enjoy every minute of it because you just never know when it will all be taken away from you.

(also love the new layout -very 'you')

Susan said...

I believe you have a rather unique perspective on what it all means, V.. thank you for your insight. I am trying to let go of this need to compete against the world...
love you.