Sometimes we take our achievements for granted. We think about now. We think about the future. We think about the past reflecting on what was missing, what we didn’t do well, all those “shoulda, woulda, coulda”s. But rarely do we take the time to look back at we what we’ve done, how much we’ve developed, how far we’ve come.
As I was walking down the street in London towards my office this week, a Contiki tour bus appeared, full of fresh young faces, the guide in full swing, animatedly explaining the sights as they passed. In an instant, I was transported back to the moment when my 22 year old self boarded a Contiki bus for the first time. That trip was my first experience of international travel. A 6 week guided tour to see the same stock-standard set of monuments as every other 20-something Australian. I simply didn’t have the confidence to travel independently on my maiden voyage.
Imagining the naïve, unworldly girl who stepped onto that bus, I found myself overwhelmed with an enormous sense of achievement. Since then, I have travelled to nearly 50 countries. I have built a career that has afforded me the opportunity to work in many different countries and enjoy several much-enjoyed mini-retirements. I have followed my dreams to live in London and Paris and created a life in both of these cities, building some beautiful friendships along the way.
I have learnt to speak a second language and in doing so opened up a new window to another culture. I have loved. I have lost. I have laughed. I have cried. I have misplaced my trust. And I have learnt how to rebuild. I have proved to myself that when the universe throws me a lemon, I will eventually get myself back on my feet and make lemonade, even if it takes a while.
If we ever got talking, this young girl and my current self would still have some commonalities. But there many ways in which we are completely different. The woman walking assuredly down the street to her office is infinitely more confident in herself and her abilities than her younger counterpart. She has achieved more than the young girl could ever have imagined for herself.
The journey hasn’t always been easy. In fact, at times it has been downright difficult. Sometimes the choices I’ve made to follow my dreams have been isolating and the disappointment hard to take in the instances when the dreams just didn’t fly.
But looking at the 22 year old and the 33 year old side by side in that street in London, I realised how much I have evolved and developed. I felt inspired by all that I’ve achieved, and grateful to the universe for helping it all fall into place. I experienced a moment of pure appreciation for the journey so far.
I encourage you to try this out for yourself. Imagine your younger self and your current self. Notice the ways in which you’ve changed and evolved. Noticed all the things you’ve achieved that you once may never have dreamed you would achieve. Stop beating yourself up for the things you didn’t do well and simply appreciate the things you did. You may be amazed at how this simple exercise brightens your day and enhances your appreciation of someone who it is, after all, pretty important to appreciate. You.