The Accomplishments Treadmill
It is tempting to measure ourselves against others, on the basis of our accomplishments. After all, unlike wealth and income, accomplishments have that veneer of desert attached to them – we tend to see how much money we have, beyond a certain point, a somewhat arbitrary measure of self-worth; whereas accomplishments and achievements – now those seem to be what truly attests to individual competence and character.
And indeed, accomplishments supersede mere status or prestige – on the grounds that they are internal. No one can take away what you've done – whilst status, reputation, and external recognition, are all fundamentally transient entities that render one subject to the arbitrary whims of others. Reputation-chasing is not particularly helpful and plausibly futile, if one is trying to make it big in a scene where one is not known to others.
Above all, as social animals, we tend to compare with one another – we engage each other through the discourses of envy and anger; the former, for we constantly feel dissatisfied at what we have; the latter, for we always feel we deserve better. Hence enters what Jean-Jacques Rousseau terms amour propre – esteem derived through the approval and endorsement of others. ...