It's 5:45 a.m. and the first alarm is going off. I drag my eyelids open and sigh. My foot starts tapping. I think about everything I have to get done that day and weigh the options of sleeping until 6, 6:15, 6:30, or getting up now. Usually I sleep until 6:15 and then feel guilty about it. Showering and getting dressed take up a small part of my morning routine.
More time is spent making a daily to-do list, packing my backpack with textbooks and notepads and snacks, and even doing small cleaning tasks that I know I won't be able to do after coming home from a long day. Sometimes this morning routine involves packing an extra tee shirt for my work study job, and khakis and a red shirt for going to work at Target. Mornings don't consist of rolling out of bed for me. This is probably because I am the quintessential overachiever. I do too much and hold myself to high standards. What sounds like a busy day to most people sounds like an easy day to me.
Overachievers push themselves in ways that not everyone understands. I like to think of it as a healthy competition with myself fueled by perfectionism. We're driven to do more, often in a more condensed time frame. If someone asked me to add one more activity to my plate I would probably say yes even if it felt like too much. This is the problem with being an overachiever—you do too much.
The problem with being an overachiever is that sometimes it is isolating. I tend to do things because I can get them done more efficiently. I tend to come of as standoffish because I think of all the things I can get done on my own and then what I could do with the time left over that I just saved. Being an overachiever can make it hard to consider the other person's perspective sometimes.
Sometimes I'm too intense for people. I color code things obsessively. If I get to my English Theory class and I do not have a purple pen, the color associated with that class, my world feels like it's crumbling. I like to manage my chaotic schedule through carefully color coded to-do lists as if color coding could save my world. The problem with being an overachiever is that there is always so much to keep track of and so much to do.
The problem with being an overachiever is that sometimes it doesn't feel like there is an off button. It feels like tasks and dates and meetings and people are rushing around in a swirling cyclone right above your head; it feels like too much sometimes. Being an overachiever is much like being a perfectionist in that there is little space for mistakes or for relaxation.
Being an overachiever is doing homework in an Uber ride from one job to the next. It is cramming that ten minutes of study time in wherever possible. Being an overachiever is accidentally prioritizing everything on your plate and not knowing in what areas to skimp. The curse of being an overachiever is the constant need to be in motion.
There is guilt when I slow down and take 40 minutes to watch "Grey's Anatomy." There is guilt when I sit in a coffee shop for twenty minutes after an appointment just to drink my nice warm coffee. I feel the pressure to always have an article or flashcards on me. I feel like I'm lost when my planner is not at arm's length.
Being an overachiever can make a really strong person. Sometimes, though, the problem with being an over achiever, is that it's just too much.