In the relatively short time I’ve occupied a space on this earth, I can say that I’ve noticed an increased demand to be everything; to be smart, attractive, successful, sociable, and whatever else in between. This kind of ideal doesn’t just exist in this transient sphere of what’s popular and what’s not, it has ingrained itself into the fundamental parts of our society and has reached age groups where I’d ever think that they’d concern themselves with the least bit of responsibility. Being someone who still has a considerable amount of “growing up” to do, that pressure of having to be that perfect human has already been a part of my life.
Ever since the 3rd grade I’ve been given the title of being “gifted”, implying that I could grasp things quicker and thing should come more naturally to me. Having this title, I was placed in an accelerated course that was formulated to teach me more than what you get from a regular course. I feel like the main lesson that those courses taught me was that failure was just not an option.
Now, usually a sentence like this inspires people to keep pursuing something that they might have given up on; to motivate them and to get them going. In my case however, it led me and people my age to believe that making mistakes was something that was forbidden and should never happen. Each “B” that we brought home seemed more like a giant blow to the chest instead of a small drop in our grades. Every pick-me-up that our
parents tried to give to us was taken as a condescending jab at our intelligence, and for the kids who didn’t have the luxury of sympathy from their parents, one can only imagine how they felt inside.
It wasn’t uncommon that someone would break down in class because of a bad grade or miss sleep because of an assignment the next day.
We overloaded ourselves with extra-curriculars and sports and volunteering because those were the qualities that we all thought would make us successful in the long run, not paying any mind to how much we were hurting ourselves.
It was very strange, specifically in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, because kids not unlike myself were all placed in the same accelerated program; all three years, all the same people. I realized that something was very strange about us, like we skipped an essential part in us growing up. It was a very surreal experience, thinking about it now. Having those easy or relaxed days in those grades rarely existed for us, and the increase of responsibility increased rather exponentially instead of gradually.I wanted to overachieve in things that were important to me.
Attending high school, I realized I didn’t want to be weighed down by my supposed failures and overload myself with things that didn’t really matter to me, just to live up to someone else’s expectations. I wanted to overachieve in things that were important to me. I didn’t want to have my supposed failures weigh down on me like they did in past years.
I decided what was important to me, and even though I still manage to stress myself out, it’s worth it in the long run.
And that’s what overachieving means.