Why I Shouldn't Be Shamed for Being an Overachiever

Why I Shouldn't Be Shamed for Being an Overachiever

On college campuses, negativity is often used when describing overachievers, calling them names and shaming them. This needs to stop.

For as long as I can remember, I've always went above and beyond the requirements when an assignment or activity caught my interest. While I wasn't this way in every single activity I participated in, nor did I live in a state of unaltered success, I have always put 100,000 percent into the things that I have cared for, expecting very little in return.

However, since being in college, this character trait I possess has somehow negatively impacted relationships, and I cannot even begin to understand why. From close friends to classmates I barely know, the words "try-hard," "psycho," and "hardo" have been used when describing those who possess this overachiever characteristic that I do. Why should I be shamed for my passions (and the self-imposed stress that comes with them), rather than rewarded or applauded for my achievements? And why is the negative stigma of being boring placed upon those who categorize themselves as overachievers?

Just shy of turning four, I started taking dance lessons a few days a week, and even performed in recitals. By five, I was swimming competitively in the summers, and committed to Irish dance lessons twice a week as well. At seven, I was swimming three times a week (year-round) for one of the most intense teams in the country, while moving up fairly quickly in my dance classes. As a child, I was both a dedicated and a highly-respected hard worker.

Throughout my teen years, things began to change. I couldn't train physically for dance or swimming due to a car accident, nor did I have the motivation to do so in the eyes of my peers. I lived in a perpetual state of angst, and felt my life was perfectly symbolized Simple Plan lyrics and my closet full of black. But behind the scenes, I was studying seven hours a night and editing papers five times before handing them in, just to try and reach perfection.

The bragging in the halls of high school consisted of students talking about how drunk they got the night before, and how many assignments they blew off -- doing just enough to get by. It had almost become respected to be "the one who didn't try," and a competition to become that person. I could never let my friends know I was doing just the opposite.

When I arrived at college, these competitions to try less became even worse. I soon stopped trying altogether because I felt it was more important to socialize and fit in, than to focus on my work. I became the overachiever of partying and not caring.

Of course, this quickly came back to bite me. I transferred, and thankfully got a fresh start to my GPA. This do-over allowed me the chance to return to my roots of real hard work, and I welcomed it with open arms.

But for some reason, not everyone did.

My occasional Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights-in were deemed "awful" because I wanted to work ahead. And people in my group projects were annoyed with me doing my portion of the work (and often theirs when they refused to put any effort in at all) extremely detailed and ahead of schedule. Eyes rolled when I, or other overachievers in my classes, stayed after for advice on our work, or raised our hands to answer questions. Even some teachers said I care far too much, and I was completely baffled by these responses.

Why has being categorized as an overachiever become so negative? I will not judge those who choose to not do their work (unless it impacts my grade or success), so why should he or she judge me for actually doing mine ahead of time?

I still make time to go out with my friends, enjoy many glasses of wine, and attend social activities. The only difference is that now I am proud of both sides of me. I am happy to now admit I spend twelve hours a week actually doing the readings for my classes, watching documentaries about my future career path, belong to six clubs, and turn every assignment in on time. It does not make me a better person, nor mean I get better grades than those who do it last minute (because I often do not), it just means I try because I am proud to be an overachiever -- whether I succeed or not.

I recognize I will never be perfect, and I don't try to be for anyone but myself. I may receive a C on an exam I study 14 hours for, I may get a job offer for a less successful company than those who don't put much effort in, yet are naturally intelligent, and I may miss out on the occasional Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night out, but I will no longer be ashamed of being the overachiever, "try-hard," "psycho," and "hardo" that I am.

Cover Image Credit: theage.com

Popular Right Now

Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Stop And Enjoy Where You Are

Yesterday is done and tomorrow cannot be planned


I work at a summer camp, I spend every single day of the summer interacting with young people. They talk about everything; jobs, dating, marriage, kids, houses, college. One day I was talking to one of my campers and she was telling me all about her future life. Who she wanted to marry, what she wanted to be and her kid's names. She told me all about what college was going to be like for her, and she even had the car she was going to drive planned out. I sat there in awe at the fact she knew all of this (I barely know what I want for dinner tonight let alone what I will be doing in 10+ years). And then after the awe wore off the sadness came over me.

Why do we so often want to rush the rest of our lives?

Why do kids especially think the future will be so much more exciting?

As I grew up I was guilty of it too. I wanted my life to start, I wanted to be done with the crap, I wanted to be grown - it seemed so much more fun than being told what to do and when to do it. But now that I am (kind of) grown, and seldom told what to do or when to do it, I wish I could go back.

But at the same time, I do not.

As I sit here now I have learned to become content on where I am, maybe it is partly because I am petrified of the future. Or maybe it is because going back would mean losing all freedom. But after realizing the past and future have happened and will happen, I have learned to live in the moment. The now is better than the 'has been' or 'will be'

I guess the point of everything is stop wishing for tomorrow, stop wishing Monday's were Friday's and stop wishing winter was summer. Stop wishing your life away and be where you are now with the incredible people surrounding you. Take that random bus to nowhere, take that picture (even if someone complains), and always take a look around and realize everything you have. Because your so desired tomorrow may not have it. You only have control of right now, at this moment - make this moment worth something.

"Remember then: there is only one time that is important - Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power." - Leo Tolstoy

Related Content

Facebook Comments