I’ve been an overachiever since first grade. We had a “Reading Raceway” track on the wall, where you moved a little car around a colorful wheel based on how many books you read. You better believe my little car was always the first in line, and I would read and read just to keep up my lead.
See, it started early. I’ve always had a desire to prove my competence. Throughout my school years, I read extra, wrote extra, worked longer, and edited more. I was THAT kid. It was not something of which I was proud. I would never, ever share my report cards like some other kids. I’d cover up test scores, ruin curves, and be ashamed of papers I did really well on. And, looking back, that’s not how I should’ve felt.
I’ve deliberately tried to overcome this overachieving nature. I have fought against it throughout my entire college career, specifically trying to procrastinate on papers and give someone else a chance to lead the group project. When a 6-8 page paper I wrote turned into a 25 page one, I realized even I couldn’t overlook how sickeningly overachieving I am.
But, I’ve come to accept that this is who I am. I live and die by my planner, I write way too much, and I pick out spelling mistakes in publications. It’s just who I am.
These are some overachieving quirks I’ve come to realize about myself.
1. Overachieving means you plan things way earlier than normal people, so much so that no one can plan a meeting with you because they don’t know where they’ll be in May of 2015.
I live and die by my planner. I will not remember anything unless it’s been written in my beloved book. I once said that if my planner was thrown over a bridge, you may as well throw me over as well. And, it may be color coordinated. Don’t judge.
2. People will be angry at you for your overachieving. You’ll just have to get over it.
Yes, I may suck up occasionally by contributing my best work. However, it would be more work for me to not try than it would be for me to overachieve – so just let me be a pain in the ass. Besides, you could overachieve if you really wanted to.
3. Overachieving doesn’t need to come across as bossy.
I’ve had to work on this. It’s difficult to try and take a leadership position, wanting to accomplish something, without someone feeling as though you’re trying to take all the control. However, it’s possible to overachieve in a group setting without being bossy. First of all, you have to be open to the ideas of others. Often times, overachievers have a specific way of doing something that seems to them as the most efficient route. However, a good leader listens. Maybe you can overachieve in other ways. Secondly, acknowledge that you do not know it all/cannot do it all, and delegate. Don’t overachieve alone.
4. You cannot control the actions of others.
Kinda goes along with the last one, eh? This has been particularly frustrating for me when it comes to timeliness. I like it when people are on time, and I take it personally if someone skips a meeting with me. You cannot control what others are going to do, so don’t try. Brush it off, let it go, and overachieve elsewhere.
These are just a few things I’ve learned along my overachieving journey. Biggest thing? Don’t be overbearing. I do not know it all, nor do I necessarily have the best ideas. But, I will always do the maximum number of pages in a paper and I’ll always highlight in my planner and I’ll put a birthday sticker on your special day – these, I am not sorry for.