Need for achievement
Sunday, October 14, 2012
I took just one psych class in University - Introduction to Personality. (I had to fight with them to let me skip the pre-requisites)
It was incredibly interesting - mainly because, like most young people in their early 20s, I was very interested in myself ;)
I discovered, in that class, that I have a very high need for achievement. I need to accomplish things. I need to master them, I have high standards. I always excelled academically. In the workplace, I continue to excel, and it's important to my sense of self that I do so. That is why being un/underemployed for 3 years in Ireland was so hard for me.
It's also why I have difficulty being active.
I'm not sure when I decided I wasn't good at sports, but whenever I did, I also decided that they weren't important to me. I just wrote them off as something that I'd never be able to derive any pleasure from (because I couldn't be the best at them) and consequently more or less didn't do them.
That's not entirely true. I was an excellent swimmer and cross country skier before the age of 12. Unfortunately, the family moved to a place where there wasn't much snow (so no cross country skiing) and where there was no public pool accessible by foot or bike, and at the time my parents only had one car, which my dad had to take to work with him.
So I became unfit. And, because of that, hated exercise even more, because I was so bad at it.
I'm trying to change my attitude. I know that achievement is important to me, so I'm trying to notice smaller improvements. When I was a kid, if I couldn't be the best, it didn't really matter. However, University taught me another thing: I'm not even close to the smartest person there is. I may have gotten the best grades in secondary school, but I certainly wasn't top of my class in University. And that's ok!
What is important to me now, is being the best I've ever been. Constantly striving for a new personal best, in whatever I do. It's still a challenge, and it's still an achievement, and it still fills that need.
Yesterday I did 1300m in the pool. Mostly in the slow lane, and one of my goals is to need to be in the medium lane. I want to increase my distance, as well. If I get faster I'll be able to fit more lengths into the same amount of time. Lastly, I want to improve my form - currently I'm not doing any standard stroke at all, so I'm less efficient. These are all things that I can do - because in this big big adult world, I know I won't ever be the best of everyone. As long as I'm getting better... that's enough.