I’m normally overenthusiastic about questions: give me a question mark and I’ll be fine. There’s only one exception to this unconditional love of mine: “what is your greatest accomplishment?”
Someone asked me that once during a brief interview and it just left me speechless.
It wasn’t a matter of modesty as if telling it out loud would make me look like I was bragging about it, I simply realized that nothing that I had done until then really felt like an accomplishment. I was a good student, but that didn’t have real repercussions on my life. I spoke several languages (not too many, but still a little more than most of the people I knew), but that didn’t feel like an accomplishment either. I was in my 20s and simply had no clue.
Since then, I repeatedly asked myself that very question to try to figure out if that was just a phase and there actually was something that I had done that I considered an accomplishment and I just didn’t remember about it.
I’m overjoyed to be finally able to say that I know what my greatest accomplishment is. I need some context, though. Here it goes:
When I decided to go to Law school I already knew I didn’t want to become a lawyer: instead, I saw it as a challenge.
Having studied foreign languages for a thousand years already (at least, it felt like forever) I just wanted to switch area of expertise.
I didn’t know what I wanted to become (I still don’t), so I decided to go for a not-so-conventional method: I imagined I was having a conversation with an acquaintance of mine (the same age as I am) who I really disliked and thought about what she could say to really do some psychological damage.
The answer was “I graduated from law school and you didn’t”. In that moment, I figured that if that simple sentence had the power to make me feel the most miserable it probably was because it was the one thing that I really wanted. So that’s what I did.
The only problem with that was that for most of the time that I’ve spent there so far I rarely felt like I was meant to be there, I always had the impression of being out of place.
That until the second semester of my first year, when I attended “Philosophy of Law”. I remember thinking, just after the end of the first lesson, “I’m not exactly sure what this is, the only thing I know is that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”. To give you an idea of what I mean by that, let’s just say that I more than once experienced Joyce-style epiphanies in the middle of the lessons and a couple of times almost broke down in tears, as overwhelmed as I was by the professor’s brilliance.
After that, nothing until last September, when I discovered that the same professor held two courses. Needless to say, I enrolled in both of them. I knew that he only taught those three courses and I should leave one for the future, but I simply couldn’t.
During one of the two, he told us that we could write a paper about something that we were passionate about related to what we had talked about in class. Again, there I was, spending almost 2 full months on a paper which wouldn’t have changed my grade or anything, just to get a chance to do something that I loved and spend a couple of minutes once a week with someone that I considered a genius.
We’re almost there.
The day of the exam finally came.
“Veni, vidi, vici.”
I went. I saw. I won.
And, guys, I went to the exam, I saw that he recognized me and I won his attention.
What’s my greatest accomplishment, you ask? I’ll be collaborating with the man who managed to make me spend a whole semester shedding tears for the intellectual depth of his thoughts.
What about you? What would you answer if I asked you what your greatest accomplishment is?