Real Talk:Your Accomplishments Won’t Make You Happy Forever

When I started my blog over a a year ago, I wanted it to be focused on topics exclusively related to fashion or pop culture. However, as of late, I’ve decided that my blog should be a platform for me to discuss anything and that I shouldn’t limit myself. Besides, I have too many things weighing on my mind all of the time, and to not discuss them or potentially help someone else by sharing them would be a travesty.

With all of that being said, I want to introduce a new series on my blog called “Real Talk.” “Real Talk” will essentially be a series of blog posts where I delve into or observe anything I’ve recently discovered about life or society. Don’t worry though; Couturely Sound is still a fashion and pop culture blog, and I hope to keep it that way, but every now and then, anticipate a post in which I share some of the issues that fail to evade my mind.

Today’s “Real Talk” is all about accomplishments and how they relate to our happiness. I think our society puts so much emphasis on accomplishments, whether it be monetarily, academically, or athletically. We always feel as if our lives could be better, so we set goals, and we work towards these goals so that we can get to wherever it is we want to be. I’m all for setting goals, and I look at my personal accomplishments with great pride-I think everyone should- but I’m here to tell you that your accomplishments will not keep you happy forever even if they are excellent.

I don’t participate in gymnastics, and I never have, but I’ve always been a fan of the sport. What gymnasts can do with their bodies absolutely astounds me, and whenever the Olympics comes on, gymnastics is always my favorite sport to watch. One of my favorite gymnasts to compete is Shawn Johnson.  Shawn Johnson competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where she took home 4 medals including a gold medal on the balance beam. After her Olympic run, she also went on to win Dancing With the Stars, becoming the youngest competitor to ever do so.

Image result for shawn johnson

Anyway, last summer I saw a video she was in that was produced by I Am Second, a Christian organization that’s main focus is about living second and being selfless.

The video is linked above, but I realize some people may not have time to watch it, so I’ll provide a brief summary. Shawn Johnson was the “it” girl in gymnastics leading up to the 2008 Olympics. Up until that point, she had won virtually every competition, so the media predicted that she would get all gold medals at the games, including the coveted gold medal in the all-around competition. Johnson, age 16 at that point, had worked her entire life for the all-around gold medal, but she came up a little short. Her teammate and friend Nastia Liukin had been neck in neck with her in competitions for the entire year, but on the day of the all-around, Liukin won the gold medal, while Johnson took silver. Johnson went on to take silver in the team and floor competitions before finally earning a well deserved gold medal with a beautiful performance on beam. Despite, all that she had accomplished, Johnson still felt like a failure-she didn’t take the gold medal in the all around and didn’t live up to everyone’s expectations. Even after winning the gold medal on beam, she still felt unhappy, like none of it really mattered in the first place.

Image result for shawn johnson  and nastia liukin

Johnson wanted redemption. After tearing her ACL in a ski accident in 2010, she decided to make a comeback for London 2012. The only difference was that she was not 16 anymore. She became obsessed with training, people were commenting on her body, and she was pressured by multiple endorsements. She hit rock bottom, until she was in the gym one day and God gave her the courage to leave the sport she had done for her entire life. The lessons she had learned was that no amount of gold medals will make you happy-after all she had won gold in Beijing and it was nice at first,  but she still felt like a failure in the years to come. She also learned that true happiness is found in God and family, and no accomplishment is worth sacrificing your well being over.

I was really inspired by this clip, but at the time, I don’t think I related to it as much as I do now. I am a go getter, so I set a lot of goals for myself. For a long time, I was convinced that if I reached all of  my goals I would be happy, but this really isn’t the case. I had a lot of moments like that this past year. I would reach a goal, feel great about it for a day or so, and then go back to feeling kind of empty again, as if I was somehow still under performing in life or missing something. I had a lot of “what now?” moments . Accomplishments are a temporary high that we can look back on, but never fully experience again.

Whenever someone of great influence with a bunch of accomplishments goes off the rails, or in extreme cases, takes their life, we are often confused. We think “how could someone who has everything be so sad or troubled?” The answer is that whatever they achieved isn’t keeping them happy anymore, and maybe it never did. I mean look at Michael Phelps. He became the most decorated Olympian in 2012, but spiraled into alcoholism before making his run for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where he also dominated. To me, he seems to be in a much better place now, having found an identity outside of all the swimming and medals with his growing family.

Image result for michael phelps

Tom Brady, even after winning 5 Super Bowls, still isn’t finished playing football as he approaches his 40th birthday. Many might wonder what drives him. Is it his winning spirit? The chip on his shoulder? His love for the game? I think it could be all of those things, but another part of me thinks he’s chasing that temporary high. After all, the feeling of winning a Super Bowl fades after so many years. He gave an interview with 60 Minutes after the Patriots had won their third championship in three years. In the interview, Brady said, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there is something greater out there for me?” Having reached the pinnacle of athletic achievement he still thought, “There’s got to be more than this.”

Image result for tom brady super bowl 51

Basketball GOAT, Michael Jordan, has echoed similar sentiment. Part of the reason he kept retiring and then coming back to basketball was because of his need to compete and win. When he really couldn’t play anymore, he did what he could to still get that competitive high, like golfing or opening up a camp where he charged middle aged men a pretty penny to get schooled by him. He has stated before that he has yet to find something that makes him tick like basketball did, and he is still looking. Jordan has won 6 rings, he’s a billionaire, he’s a widely respected athlete, and yet he still feels a void.

Image result for michael jordan dunk

Here’s what I’ve learned:The only things that will truly fulfill you are the memories you create, your family, friends, and God.

Sure, you can get straight A’s in school and ace all of your exams, but is that temporary high worth loosing sleep over or friendships? Memories?

You might work your way up in a job and become a CEO, but is that prestigious position worth missing your kids’ soccer games over? Or your marriage?

My point is-don’t sacrifice your health, well being, experiences, or relationships for that temporary high because unlike the aforementioned things, it will not keep you happy forever. Set goals for yourself and reach for the stars, but always remember that whatever you achieve is not the end all be all, and it is definitely not what defines you or your purpose in life.

Stay golden my friends,

Couturely Sound ❤

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