I love achievements. When the xbox icon pops up that says I just unlocked master, I quick pump my fist in the air. When I come in first on Mario Kart and beat the entire game, I do a victory dance (with my kids dancing with me). The achievement list that was placed in World of Warcraft was made for a person like me. Found all the coins in the fountain in Dalaran? Me. Ironman in Warsong? Me again. Killed the Lich King while singing Itsy Bitsy Spider? Me. Wait, that’s not a real achievement ;).
I think this achievement need started when I was a child. I was never pressured to get good grades. It was something I craved, something I thought I needed. When I got an A, I didn’t crow. But I did feel deep satisfaction and searched for the next thing I could be best in.
I won awards for my athletics, for my grades, and for my art. I scored high in both my SAT’s and ACT’s. But it wasn’t enough. Once I had one achievement under my belt, I looked for another.
My achievement addiction moved into other areas of my life as I grew into adulthood. I knew theology and could debate with the best of them. I worked hard to have the perfect body to the point of hurting myself. I read everything I could so I could have the best pregnancy and birth. Same with being a mother.
Almost everything I put my hand to, I exceeded at. And if I didn’t, I dropped it and moved on. I would not waste my time on anything that I wasn’t the best at.
Funny enough, I never really wanted the limelight. That didn’t matter to me and in some ways scared a shy person like me. So why did I want to be the best? I couldn’t explain to you. There was this gnawing craving inside of me. I desired it and it made me feel good when I had it.
The dark times God brought me through over the last few years blasted through the fortress of Achievement I had in my heart. I have been humbled. I learned that all I have, I have been given by God. So when I published, I never dreamed that I would find that gnawing hunger inside my heart again. But it’s here, and it took me by surprise.
I have had people asking me how many books I have sold or how much money I have made. I have no idea. I’ve never asked. And I was delighted that I didn’t really care. But what I found myself craving was acknowledgement. I wanted to be the best… again.
I had coffee with a friend yesterday and I told her about this darkness inside of me. I was humiliated by it and didn’t understand it. Why? Why do I struggle with this? She pointed out something that I had never realized. It’s like a high for me. As soon as I achieve one thing, I look for my next high. I’m an achievement junkie.
I sat back in shock and knew she was right. I never understood why as a child I wanted good grades. Like I said, I was never pressured. But I wanted it anyway. And now that I know my addiction, I’m giving it to God. In the end, achievements do not fulfill, they just make me crave more of them. But God, well, He satisfies in a way that no achievement ever will.
Besides, I can’t claim anything. Good grades? God gave me my brain. Athletics? God made my body. A great book? I can’t tell you how many times I bowed my head and asked God to help me with a scene. And He did. So I can’t take the credit.
There is a saying I once heard on the television series Combat Hospital that stuck with me and made me think long after the episode ended.
“Are you doing your best, or trying to be the best?”
And that’s a question I have for you :).