Where’s my sense of achievement?

You ask my mum, she’ll tell you I’m too modest, that I never think I’m very good at things.  Not that unusual for a British-born people pleaser, and whilst I didn’t particularly agree, I used to put it down to being a perfectionist and a realist.  However I now wonder whether it’s tied in to my feelings, or lack thereof, about what I do well.

I recently submitted my PhD thesis, 80,000 words that represented the culmination of 4 years’ blood sweat and tears, and to be honest it was totally underwhelming.  Maybe I had built it up too much in my head, maybe my brain is waiting until after my viva before it lets me celebrate, but I just felt disappointed.  I’ve been more excited to find a fiver in an old handbag.

I posted before about alexithymia and my difficulty in identifying how I feel, and whilst my peers assure me that it is normal to feel completely wrung out after handing in, none reported this sense of “well that was a waste of time”.  I promised myself a big present when I finished – a holiday, a cookery course, a tablet PC – but I honestly don’t feel like I deserve one.

Telling people I’ve submitted is uncomfortable, as I have to stop myself answering people’s rhetorical questions about how relieved/proud/pleased I must be, and nod at their assumptions.  I can see that they feel relieved/proud/pleased for me, and I remember feeling genuinely relieved/proud/pleased for friends when they reached the same point.  So why am I unable to extend the same courtesy to myself?  I was supposed to feel amazing, and I feel like a kid who got socks for xmas instead of Buzz Lightyear, but has to thank their kindly relative anyway *sulk*.

I wonder whether I consciously base an ‘achievement’ on feeling a ‘sense of achievement’, but then fail to find that feeling, leading me to conclude that I have achieved nothing.

© Catastraspie, 2012.

Sense of achievement

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4 Responses to Where’s my sense of achievement?

  1. In school, I always felt like putting effort into something that did not hold my interest was a waste of my time. I felt drained and like I could have done better, and I probably could have done better, but it simply bored me too much.

  2. petelangman says:

    Oh, the underwhelming submission feeling?
    That moment when you see those years stuck on a pile, and filed into a darkened room?
    It’s universal. As, i suspect, are your feelings of worthlessness regarding it.
    Just remember, how you feel about it doesn’t change what it is … and post-viva, it’ll doubtless be your successful submission for the title ‘dr’.
    Which you will have earned, and you will deserve.

    (Dr) P

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