The Achievements of Others… Do you envy, admire, are challenged or inspired by them?




A friend of a friend recently revealed that a project of theirs, of the team of which they are a part, had been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in one of those categories which doesn’t always make it to the show which airs on TV, but which is still very important to those who are nominated for it and may win such a coveted prize.

The friend who told me about this was excited about the news. They had watched their friend develop the talent, with lots of hard work, dedication, and determination, which had led to this possible Oscar nomination.

They were happy for their friend, they admired them with a small hint of envy, the kind of envy which is productive rather than destructive as it challenged them and inspired them in an encouraging way to pursue their own talent as their possible Oscar nominated friend had done.

The achievements of others often leave us with mixed feelings. The same mixed feelings which you see on the faces of those which are focused upon by the cameramen who film the Oscar ceremony and whose job it is to record the reactions of the audience, especially those members of the audience who were nominated in a category but did not win the prize, and now they have to watch as one of their colleagues wins the prize which was almost in their grasp but not quite – better luck next time, if there is a next time.

There are some people who, no matter how hard they work, no matter how talented they are, how determined to succeed… never win the prize. They are the proverbial eternal bridesmaid who is never the bride – that’s a rather awkward comparison, since being a bride is a mixed blessing. Is it really an achievement or the beginning of a different kind of challenge which doesn’t really have a prize at the end of it, and is it fair to consider a groom to be a trophy which the bride has won?

Politically and other types of correctness aside, what that old proverb shows is how competitive humans are in all matters, especially those of the heart – the things which we care about, have a passion for, and pursue with a lust for achievement of one sort or another.

I’ve often flummoxed people with my seeming lack of ambition. I don’t lack ambition, I just don’t necessarily express it in a conventional manner, the expected way to which those people who are flummoxed can relate. Because they can’t relate, they deem me to be without ambition, which they can’t understand and it disturbs them, mostly because they’re competitive and they can’t find a way to compete with me and win the competition. I’m the runner who runs the race backwards and that is ridiculous to them, so they dismiss me as a fool and get as far away from me as possible in case such a thing is infectious.

I’ve tried being conventionally ambitious and competitive. It doesn’t suit me and feels artificial. It’s me being not me. But you have to try things out sometimes to find that out, and because you want to belong and be accepted and acceptable, even if you know that’s not a prize you’re ever going to win. You’re the designated outsider so that others can be insiders.

I don’t know if I would have been this way naturally (I suspect that I probably would have been), but I do know that the nurture which my nature received did influence my attitude.






I grew up in an environment which was consistently competitive – and I was always the bridesmaid. The designated bridesmaid, and was expected to consider such a designation as an honour, as a prize in and of itself, as I could have been just a member of the audience of such a ceremony, or an uninvited guest who crashed the wedding.

My father was successful in his career. He had developed his natural talent through hard work, dedication and determination. He won accolades for what he did, but they were never enough – ambition is like that.

My mother also had a career, but she gave it up when she married my father. Those were the times, and what was expected by those who lived in those times. And that… meant that her ambitions were subverted in a way which at first was productive and later proved to be destructive. Her admiration eventually became pure envy which devoured everyone who was a blip on her radar.

If you wanted to retain enough of yourself to survive, you had to appear to be without ambition, without talent, without anything worth eating by her very hungry envy (and in some ways my ambition was subverted into a quest to get out alive and as intact as was possible under such circumstances – the jury is still deliberating on whether I achieved a prize in this challenge).

I admire the work of those who run The Daily Post, their dedication to inspiring and challenging the bloggers who use such a wonderful tool such as WordPress. I also admire and am grateful to all those who work hard in a dedicated and determined manner, to keep a tool such as WordPress working, evolving, so that bloggers like me can use it.

The prize for meeting Th Daily Post’s challenges, and prompts, is in participating, in finding out what we can create and being surprised at our own creativity and talent. Sure there is the golden carrot of being featured on Freshly Pressed, however some of those who’ve been featured have described it as a mixed blessing of many mixed feelings, while others have described it as an achievement which has propelled them into a quest to keep achieving their heart’s desire, their ambition to which they determinedly dedicate their hard work. And sure I’d like to be featured, as I said I’m ambitious, however… sometimes I prefer striving to achieve rather than achieving, because once you achieve something… then what? You need to find a new golden carrot to try to catch, and golden carrots are a bit on the teeth-breaking inedible side. Tasty until you actually taste them. But still… they look so delicious, as all things do which we have yet to attain.

Such is life, ambition, and being human – a complex puzzle which is perhaps more fun when we are trying to solve it than when we solve it. Then again… the satisfaction of solving such a puzzle… hmmm.

I read an intriguing article this morning which sums up in part the ‘Why’ (the ambition which motivates) of why I take photographs – PhotoTherapy. It’s how I get to know myself and glimpse the myriad of things which are contained by one human. It informs me about myself, but more than that, it informs me about others using myself as a point of reference. We are all so much more than what others see of us, be it a photograph we took, a post which we wrote, and all those other bits and pieces, facets, which others see – and others are so much more than what we see of them.

Take the Selfie, for instance. There has been a lot written about this phenomenon – a portion of what has been written about it is critical. The general consensus, the developing conventional view, seems to be that we should sneer at those who take lots of selfies and post them on social media. Why? Why are we so anti-selfie? Why do we care (in a negative manner) if someone posts pics of themselves – what’s our trophy for judging this activity, and those who participate in it? Are we envious that selfie-takers (and sharers of selfies which have been taken) do what they do? Do we want to do it too… but somehow feel that we can’t?






A picture is worth a thousand words – what are the thousand words which a selfie expresses? And whose words are they? Yours when you look at someone else’s selfie or those of the selfie-taker?

Is a selfie an achievement? It could be if the person who now takes selfies used to hate themselves, the way that they looked, and what the way that they looked meant to them. Perhaps the selfie is self-therapy using photography. And they share it to celebrate their achievement, themselves, the fact that they are alive, and have survived all those challenges which life presents all of us with from the moment we are born (and sometimes before we are born).

The achievements of others… Do you envy, admire, are challenged or inspired by them?

What does it say about you, your self (selfie) and what does it say about them, their self (selfie)?

For me, taking photographs, is an achievement of an unseen ambition, a silent ‘Like’ button pressed to release the shutter whose value as a trophy can only be known within. The resulting shot is a picture which expresses more than a thousand words, a thousands snapshots of life lived and yet to be lived, each pixel has a story. Facets whose faces may never be seen, but may be felt somewhere, somehow in the mists of time, space, being… a tree growing where once there was a fence. When I take a photo of myself, you may see a selfie, a sign of narcissism perhaps, I hear an echo and see a self who wants to be known… by me, the life within, the blood flowing… since blood first flowed from the very first beat of a heart.

You… are an achievement of life. What meaning that has… is it up to you, others, or is it a meaning that will never be known, for to know it is to…?






Prelude to a post, this post – While contemplating this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement, whether to participate or not, and if I chose to participate, how to do it in a way which fit the brief and suited me too – things which are not always one and the same, at least in my mind… two joggers ran resolutely along the verge of the road which borders my little plot of living. I watched them, unseen… which was a relief as I was slouchingly leaning against the back door frame, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. They were being conventionally healthy and I was being conventionally unhealthy watching them being conventionally healthy… which made me conventionally self-conscious of how conventionally unhealthy I was being. For a brief instant I hated them for making me feel this way. Then I chuckled at my… whatever. Humour is a conventional and unconventional reliever of all those things, the burdens which we put upon ourselves and others. I lightened my load and found my inspiration for this post – just be yourself and go with it, see where it leads. The results may not achieve anything or win any prizes but you may surprise yourself… and that’s something.



11 thoughts on “The Achievements of Others… Do you envy, admire, are challenged or inspired by them?

  1. There is probably enough content in this for at least 8 blogs.

    I am happy for the ‘achievements’ of others . Achievements. Things people work toward and ‘earn’. Gee does that read as judgmentally as it sounds as it does to me? HA!

    I am sometimes, actually often, envious at those that swerve into ‘good luck’ or ‘easy sledding’ as i seem to struggle a lot – although it probably originates with me.

    I am not covetous or envious of the particular thing that they have, as though I feel I should have it and they shouldn’t. It’s more of a feeling like ‘wow, i wish i knew how to do that – or i wish i had that kind of temperament’ Maybe as simple as ‘i wish i were happy too’. I watch my son who was born with the happy gene. You’d never hear him saying ‘I try to stay positive’ or ‘i think positively’ because he just is. He does not have to ‘course correct’ b/c he is hardwired like that. Those are the kinds of things i envy.

    I am definitely competitive but not with others. Mars in Scorpio. I mostly compete with myself.

    I am not ambitious at all. The only thing i really wanted to do was be a wife and a mother. In fact, I think that the most incredible thing they could write on my headstone would be ‘beloved wife and mother.”

    I am in a very visible, grown up profession. I am tilted so far into my animus to do this that my knuckles practically drag on the ground. It does not suit me at all. I went back to work to survive when i was divorced at a time when most of my friends and their husbands were on the glide path to retirement. Work, if it’s sort of a forced march, is a huge imposition on anyone’s personal freedom. Spending all of your hours doing things that in 100 years time will be meaningless in my opinion.

    Another type of competition/comparison i never understand is those friends say ” , well thank goodness you can work, where would you be if you didn’t have your work?…..’ sort of spinning it into some ‘lucky ‘ twist of fate that i’m simply doing something i dont want to do as opposed to say….. starving. While they’re home in their yoga pants watching t.v.

    Even if it is well meaning i always feel that its an attempt to guilt you out of your authentic feelings. On one hand there’s the threat of ‘well, it could be worse’. I hate that line of thinking.. Having to minimize our own authentic feelings whilst being compared to some possible hideous imaginary fate that someones dreamed up so that in comparison you feel better about your own lot…. but not really. Why do people do that?


    1. Why do people do that – as in why do people use ‘it could be worse’ to make themselves ‘feel better’?

      A possible answer from someone who uses that notion, and has used it for a large portion of their life in different ways, is because it puts the situation into perspective, relieves anxiety, and releases the mind from the shackles of this being the worst which causes panic and paralysis due to panic. This notion allows logical thought to work the situation out, possibly finding a way to solve things as they are. I do not use it to – “minimize our own authentic feelings whilst being compared to some possible hideous imaginary fate that someones dreamed up so that in comparison you feel better about your own lot…. but not really”. However that is one possible use for it if one chooses to use it that way – and perhaps it is being used that way because that is what the person who uses it that way needs to do… to keep going.

      We all have our methods of coping with life and the experiences involved. The ‘why’ of it can’t always be explained in a way which someone else will understand when they ask – why do you do that? That question sometimes infers – I have no empathy for your way of doing things, if I did I wouldn’t need to ask that question, your method is foreign, unknown… and I really don’t want to know why you do it, I just want to point out that I don’t do it and would never do it therefore can’t empathise because that would mean I’m like you and I don’t want to be like you – which could be viewed as another version of ‘it could be worse’ as in ‘I could be worse than I am if I was like you, luckily I am not like you and never will be because I will never understand why you are you – I feel better about myself for not understanding you’.

      ‘It could be worse’ used within a hypothetical scenario based on myself:

      Both my parents are narcissists. They have never loved me because they can’t love. They abused me emotionally and psychologically, which has deeply wounded and affected me – I feel very sorry for myself because of it. I can’t seem to extricate myself from the vicious cycle of self pity. Being stuck in that vicious cycle affects my adult life, whether my parents are a part of it or not. I keep repeating the patterns of my childhood. Et cetera.

      It could be worse.

      My parents could have abused me emotionally, psychologically… AND physically. The physical abuse is the ‘it could be worse’ element. ‘Luckily’ they hated physical interaction and so physical abuse did not occur – unless you include lack of physical contact as physical abuse. My mother did spank me with the hard side of a hairbrush a few times but it ‘hurt her to do it more than it hurt me’ so she stopped. My father slapped me a few times, once because I kicked him in the shins, once because I got in the way of a slap meant for my mother, and once because… something I said which was meant to slap him in the face. He was mortified and refrained from such acts unless unduly provoked.

      Not being abused physically, knowing – due to observing how physical abuse can affect those at the receiving end of it, listening to their stories which are harrowing – how awful it can be… I can put my own experience into perspective (it is not at the expense of those who had it worse than me, I do not feel better because they had it worse… and because my experience compared to theirs was ‘not as bad’). I can stop feeling sorry for myself and start doing something which will pass on a ‘better’ legacy than what was passed onto to me (and to those who had it worse).

      We’re human, we can’t stop ourselves from comparing our lives and experiences to those of others… how that comparison affects us, affects how our experience affects others.

      I don’t want to pass my problems on to others, I want the buck to stop here. I want to deal with my story as it is. If I can.

      It’s interesting that you mentioned the ‘happy’ gene and also Mars in Scorpio. I have Mars in Scorpio. The ‘happy’ gene viewed astrologically could be attributed to a well-placed and well-aspected Jupiter. Jupiter in astrology is sometimes considered the optimist. My natal Jupiter is involved in a dynamic that requires of me to consider the ‘happiness’ and other things of others to balance my perspective. So ‘it could be worse’ is in some ways, my natal Jupiter talking, reminding me that my issues are a part of a whole rather than the whole.

      I could be very judgmental if I wanted to be… to me that is a worse case scenario. A bit of being judgmental can’t be avoided, it’s how we process stuff, but there is a line between extremes which when crossed causes the kind of confusion which thinks it is clear and righteous in its clarity – crossing that line is something that is even worse than my ‘it could be worse’.

      We live and make mistakes and learn something along the way 🙂


  2. I am smitten by your shell picture-being a seashell, so beautiful!
    As I have failed at being loved by my parents, my achievements can appear nonsensical as they are all inner turned, i am scared of competition and i lack the taste of it . i don’t feel i would like to be in the place of someone, but i would love to achieve something for myself with my own means, i find it’s difficult to compare lives. For sure i have learnt not to speak too much about my inner goeals, as most of the people are just struck by the fact i owe nothing, i don’t like shopping and i have no money at all (coming from a well to do family, but my father sees me as dead as i didn’t satify his N criteria of success. My achievents lie all in understanding a text, music or art, to understand people as much as I can and since i have been in contact with you I have been able to write a couple of things I love.but achievements for the majority of people are visible, can be traslated into money and social status and have to follow the mainstream.Son for instance, if your writingis not published, you are loser, but there are many published things i wouldn’t be proud to be the author of!!


    1. Thank you 🙂

      My parents sort of trained me to hate the achievements of others – they hated them so I had to or else I was being disloyal (and other myths of man and woman)… so I consider it an achievement that I don’t do that. They inspired me to run in the opposite direction to the way their race was going.

      I love the feeling of celebrating someone else’s victory. It’s hopeful, exciting, fun and it is a reminder that we can all have our victories… so why try to steal the victory of someone else? What is to be gained from that which can’t be gained from giving instead of taking? Of course humans are complicated and we often do everything in a topsy turvy way which seems to us to be the right way around and up.

      There are a lot of great artists who have never been acknowledged… or at least we only appreciate their talent long after they have gone and they can no longer benefit from our late appreciation and acknowledgement – their achievement came post mortem, perhaps because they died and someone else saw an opportunity to achieve something through their death. Achievement by proxy.

      There is a conventional view and version of achievement, and then there is an unconventional version and view of it – which one suits us depends very much on which one satisfies the craving within – and the craving within may be a by-product (mixed with other things) of our experiences of conventional and unconventional forms of achievement.

      My parents, combined, achieved many of the achievements which are supposed to satisfy ambition – they were far from satisfied, in fact the more they achieved (in a conventional and socially acceptible sense), the more miserable they seemed to be… so I saw that route as a dead end and decided to go the other way. Which may have been unwise but such is living life rather than thinking about living life.

      Sometimes we just have to do stuff and keep doing stuff and not focus on the results (according to everyone else – like those who give out achievement awards), because in doing we’re living our life… in awaiting the results we’re in a limbo in which we may become stuck – alive but not living.

      I don’t know… and perhaps it’s better that way. Perhaps not knowing is an achievement of which I will never be aware 😉

      I came across this quote recently – “There is nothing we should be quite so grateful for as the last line of the poem that goes, ‘When your own heart asks.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

      Perhaps our greatest achievement is listening to our own heartbeat… and what it is saying and asking ❤


      1. I love your quote. I consider an achievent to be able to rejoice of what my friends are achieving at the moment, while i haven’t- the fact of living a hard life doesn’t prevent me from being happy for them. Do you know the ethimology of envy?In latin, invideo means to cast a bad eye on someone and ultimately to wish them dead. My parents were so evil with me, always comparing and magnifying other kids that i was envious of my parents’ admiration for them; but now, reconsidering my past through therapy, i have realized none of their behavioural patterns were normal although I am still paying for that. it’s like mourning for a life gone by craving for love which wasn’t there.
        Maybe i could have achieved something if I hadn’t to go through such an ordeal with two N parents.
        Ns are such much turned to the exterior, I value more my inner world.


        1. Narcissists, when they talk, sound Pathetique – – only not as beautifully played as Daniel Barenboim does it. The light keys of their words are always followed by heavy keys, are always leading up to the heavy keys, the heaviness is an undertone weighing down any lightness. The quickness of their patter belies the slow sombre movement beneath which never deviates from its pattern of wanting to weigh down all that is light. Always pausing after a heavy thud has been delivered… then light again, but you can’t shake the heavy thud which came before.

          My parents also compared me with my peers, always unfavourably even if for a moment it sounded favourable – those light keys were a prelude to heaviness. A compliment making you vulnerable to the subsequent criticism which was the only reason for the compliment.

          I recall once inviting a friend to stay with us for the holidays. This friend happened to be a gifted replicator – a potential forger of the masters should they have chosen that path – as in they could draw exactly what someone else had drawn after only seeing it once and do it with such precision that it was hard to tell which was the original and which the copy. My father became obsessed with my friend, and constantly presented them with drawing to replicate. This in and of itself was a bit awkward but could have been viewed as a mature artist recognising artistic gift and encouraging it as had been done with him. However, my parents being N inclined made this whole scenario more sinister. I liked to draw too… but compared to this friend, I should give up unless I could match them. But that’s not why I loved drawing. And this friend of mine didn’t actually love drawing, didn’t even like it… and I’d never seen them do it until this holiday, so I did not even know they could do it and do it so magnificently.

          I don’t know what my friend got from their exposure to my parents. I think it left them a bit traumatised as the intensity of a narc’s attention is quite unsettling, when two of them are focused on you… yikes! I never saw them draw after that holiday, just as I’d never seen them draw before it. So maybe everything went back to normal.

          However for me, that occasion showed me the fickle nature of my parents, their attention, their compliments and criticism, their need to compare (unfavourably with the favourable), etc.

          Narcissists moan a lot, about everyone and everything, it goes on and on as Pathetique (only not such a pleasure to hear), but it is moaning about no one and nothing, it is in some ways moaning for the sake of moaning itself as the moaning is soothing, stroking, excuses excusing them from achieving all those things which they pressure themselves (and others, like their children) to achieve which are impossible to do so because the bar is set too high… in the aether of unrealistic ideal.

          You are an achiever and have achieved much in your life, in the now as well as in the then… whether you consider it an achievement depends very much on you – your view. If you judge it based on the parameters of a narc (of your narc parents) or look at it from a perspective which is more stable, grounded and here on earth (of your experience as a real human living a very real life on a real planet).

          “Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo


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