Confessions Of A Former Overachiever


Recently, I was able to go on a trip in the midst of the pandemic. Where did I go, you may ask? Well, on a trip down memory lane.

I browsed through my old CDs from when I was in high school and in university back in my home country and I noticed I have so many pictures. My mom had documented many of my extracurricular activities, ranging from spelling bees, to singing contests, to talent shows and most especially beauty pageants that I had the opportunity to join when I was younger. If you are wondering if I won places for those contests, yes I did, for I am what you may call a (former) achiever.

Nowadays, people like to call themselves multihyphenate, or a multipotentialite. It’s actually a very recent term that was coined so it sounds more professional and less aggressive than if you call yourself an achiever. But where I came from, we use that latter term, because in my culture, to be successful, we think you have to be somebody first—though by now I know my peers, including myself, are realizing it’s not the case. As I’ve learned throughout the course of my life so far, being an achiever in your early teens is not a guarantee for success, because change is inevitable.

We all go through changes. Life changes, our wants and our needs change, circumstances change, everything changes. What I learned is that in these changes, being an achiever doesn’t really affect your path to becoming successful. It’s not a straight line. If you think that getting ahead in life guarantees you to have your foot in the door of opportunities, think again, because life will let you down at some point and you have to learn from it the hard way sometimes.

When I graduated high school with second honors, I was on top of the world. Well, I was only the second highest, but I was beaming with excitement at the thought of becoming a nurse as my chosen course in college. I thought that because I was in a special science class and graduated with flying colors, I would have an edge in the sciences. Boy, was I wrong. Nobody tells their kids this, but I will warn you: If you are an achiever, you’ll turn ugly with competitiveness, no matter how beautiful you think you are. In college, it doesn’t matter if you are a former beauty pageant queen or if you graduated with honors—only the hardworking and truly smart survive. With emphasis on the “truly smart”, and not just book smart or high IQ, street smarts and high emotional quotient are much more important in this heck of a jungle.

Some, if not most, of my peers know my story. How I dropped out of nursing school to be with my family here in Canada. That I became depressed and now live with anxiety. Though it’s a tragic story to some, it’s actually a blessing for me. If I did not drop out at that time, I wouldn’t have realized all the wrongs in my life, and now I am blessed with all the right things for me. And to whom am I grateful to for such a story of breakthrough? God, of course! God truly has His mysterious ways of making our life story. Though I know my life story is not yet done, the beginning of how He saved me sounds exciting enough that I am looking forward to all the wonderful things that will unfold in my life.

So, is being an achiever at a young age worth it? Should my peers who have children now encourage their kids to be achievers when they get older? Is it a blessing or a curse? I’d say yes and no, and a little of both.

Yes, it is a blessing, since I was able to join different contests and experiment with what else I can and can’t do. I learned I can sing, dance, act, write, draw, paint, and much more. And I learned I am just book smart, since I have average IQ and am an introvert, lacking social skills.

No, it is not really a curse, though I would say it does get on your nerves since you become competitive and become a perfectionist when it comes to performances and results. It really is an unattractive trait, though the good thing is you grow past that phase.

Either way, it all depends on the kid. For the parents, my advice is to just trust your children, like my parents did me. Because they trusted me, I did not let my being an achiever get to my head—that is why I was able to balance it all out in the end. Especially now that I am in my late 20s, I’m not too hard on myself, because I know I can improve. Even if I am a late bloomer and my peers are now successful in their careers, marriages, starting a family, or traveling elsewhere, I know I will have my perfect timing as well. In God’s perfect time.

In everything you do, just have faith in God and give Him all the glory. Because who we are is His gift to us, and who we become is our gift to God.