1 min read


"your most impressive accomplishment"

i've seen this prompt three or four times. feels like dozens.

what's an accomplishment?

stupid question.

i often think of something, and inevitably the thing feels like:

  1. #iamverysmart. not self-defeating like the subreddit, but academic, and revealing for what it isn't. if you had a "real" accomplishment to brag about, you'd be talking about that instead. remember the meme — people talk about iq, gpa when they have nothing better to talk about.
  2. otherwise unimpressive. run-of-the-mill.
  3. not an accomplishment, for a particular narrow definition of accomplishment, which says it must be provable or impactful and preferably both.

making a thing counts as an accomplishment. it rarely feels like an impressive one. the process of creating a thing frequently (not always) turns it into something that it is simple to create.

learning a thing doesn't count as an accomplishment. i frequently can't prove it definitively to someone who doesn't already know what I'm talking about. it feels more impressive for vague topics than for exact ones which by logical necessity i know more about?

doing an effortful thing over a long period is impressive in a narrow sense of showing seriousness. i suppose that's the sort of thing i could talk about. doesn't lend itself well to a moment though. on the other hand i guess it kind of does — you have dozens if not hundreds to choose from, depending on how long and how often you've been doing the thing. example: writing notebook posts. this kind of thing maybe doesn't maximize potential impressiveness, but it feels better than some of these other ideas.

the prototypical accomplishment feels more point-like. increased server response speed by 20%. won a glue bowl. gave a ted talk.

(it's funny, because thinking about this i bet if i did any of them i'd feel similar to how i do about making things. doing them makes them feel more doable and therefore less impressive.)

as i'm thinking of it now impressive accomplishment is maybe – 2/3 of provable, difficult or impactful.

but it's also — impressive to other people.

i forgot where i was going with that.