There are many common misconceptions about overachievers. Being an overachiever is not a conscious decision. It’s something deeply engrained in my psyche that is just a natural part of my DNA. As I’ve navigated my way through this life I’ve encountered several misconceptions about the way I operate that range from complimentary (“How do you do it all?”) to rude, (“You must not have any time for your own family…”).
I’ve pretty much heard it all.
Today I’ve compiled a list of common misconceptions about overachievers. I’m hoping is that laying it on the line you can better understand my kind.
10 Misconceptions About Overachievers
1. We have something to Prove:
This one is only partly true. We do have something to prove, but it’s not to the person you think. We are often our own worst critics. The curse of overachievement is perfectionism, however our fixation on the details is also what brings us to our greatest sense of accomplishment. If we didn’t have people in the world that sought to achieve perfection, dared to dream big, and pursued the impossible, we would be without many of the modern comforts and technological innovations we take for granted today.
2. We Don’t Have a Life:
It’s true that our pursuits often take up a significant amount of our time, however many of us also live by the motto: “Work hard. Play harder.” After a particularly grueling workweek I often intentionally balance it out with activities that will feed my spirit. It might be taking a hot bath at the end of the day, diving into my favorite book, or calling up a close girlfriend or two and meeting for a drink. I work my butt off during the week specifically so I can have the downtime during the weekend to just relax and enjoy life.
3. We’re all, “Look at me!!”:
Overachievers are often misunderstood as attention seekers. This is probably one of the most common misconceptions I’ve encountered. Overachievers pursue excellence for the intrinsic reward of personal accomplishment and pride in a job well done. Sure – who doesn’t enjoy recognition for the hard work you have put into something you cared deeply about? Having said that, it’s certainly not the driving force behind the accomplishment itself.
4. We Think Others Should Do as We Do:
Nothing would make us happier than helping someone else on their own journey of self-improvement, however we also understand that not everyone shares the same dreams and desires that we do. Everyone needs to find their own path in life and it certainly doesn’t need to mimic our own.
5. We’re Intentionally Trying to “Keep Busy”:
Busyness is not an accomplishment. We don’t need to fill our day with to do lists. And we don’t intentionally seek out frivolous tasks just to fill up our calendar. It just happens that keeping busy is a natural part of who we are. We say yes to projects that excite us, pursue opportunities that challenge us and help us grow, and engage in activities we enjoy. Sometimes our downtime looks to others like more “busy” time, but believe it or not, sometimes that’s actually how we relax.
6. We’re Secretly Insecure:
It’s often thought that overachievers must have had a childhood with one or more parents who were difficult to please. Sometimes it’s assumed that overachievers don’t have control over certain aspects in their life and therefore feel the need to overcompensate in others. Though these scenarios no doubt exist, for many of us, personal achievement is simply a gratifying experience. Many overachievers I know are confident, secure, and practical people with hearts of pure gold. Their intentions are pure and they honestly just want to make a difference in the world. It’s far more likely that those who criticize overachievers are the ones who are actually insecure themselves.
7. We’re Fake:
Many people I’ve encountered assume that an ambitious person doesn’t form genuine connections and uses other people to move up the corporate ladder. Speaking for myself, I genuinely enjoy spending time with others. I enjoy building relationships and understanding different perspectives from my own. Since I began teaching I’ve been a part of several schools where I’ve formed such deep connections with staff members that I still keep in touch with many of them ten years later, even though we no longer work together. Disingenuous interactions fade over time and wear thin fast. Many overachievers love people and simply enjoy building connections with others.
8. We Look Down on Others:
Just because this is how we operate doesn’t mean we expect others to follow suit. Everyone has his or her own natural tendencies, temperaments, and dispositions. We all view the world through different lenses. I can certainly appreciate those who approach life with a laidback attitude. Nothing seems to ruffle their feathers. Though us overachievers might appear uptight by comparison, we can appreciate the people in our lives that ground us and help us to keep things in perspective.
9. We Don’t Prioritize Family
I don’t work late, and I try my best not to do work at home until after my son is in bed. When I’m at work I’m fully present and intent on doing the best job I can, but when I shut off the lights to my classroom at the end of the day, I leave it all behind me. When I’m home I cook dinner with my son, we snuggle on the couch, or play a short game before supper. On weekends we explore the sights of the city and always find new adventures as a family. It’s important to me that when we are together as a family it is quality time and we’re not just occupying the same air. I’m grateful to have the time together and I intentionally soak up every moment.
10. We should Slow Down:
Asking an overachiever to slow down is like asking them to stop breathing. Sure, they could probably use a few more moments in their day to relax, however they really only know one speed. While others may find solace in vegging on the couch, an overachiever might find this incredibly stressful as they mentally replay the list of things they could be doing with their time. Better to let them do their own thing, and remember that the ways in which you relax is very different from how they might relax. Their relaxation would probably exhaust you. It’s ok. Let them be anyway.
Are you an overachiever? Do you know someone who is? Share this with your friends on Facebook or Pinterest!
XO The Good Enuf Mommy