Saturday, April 24, 2010

The curse of the has-been over-achiever

Listening to: 'Nothin' On You' by B.o.B. ft. Bruno Mars [B.o.B Presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray]

I got an email a couple of days back from one of my mother's friends asking me how I'm doing, and she said -
"...knowing you, you'll pass with flying colours. I know your parents are so proud of you."
Today, I decided to start updating my CV. I was looking at the example CVs in the guide book, and my list of achievements looked...well...minuscule, in comparison. I felt like a failure. A phony. Like I had let everyone I know down.

Why does everyone I've known since childhood assume that I'll just breeze through everything? My mother jokes that it's my own fault for being an over achiever. Perhaps...I'll accept, I used to be an over achiever. But not any more. Now I'm struggling to keep afloat. It's difficult enough as it is to not drown, without everyone else expecting me to just sail through. It's taken a lot of soul searching for me to accept the fact that things are difficult now, and that it doesn't mean I'm a failure. I'm learning how to ask for help, and I'm learning to love myself, warts and all...but the moment someone expects me to return to my over-achieving ways, it all comes crashing down. The chest tightens, the tension headache appears, and I burst into tears...only to be told off by my father for getting hysterical.

I wish I could explain to these people that it's difficult. And that it doesn't just happen. Yes I did my school exams well...but don't for a minute think that I didn't work incredibly hard. I am not a genius. I know a few geniuses, and I know that I'm not one of them. This assumption that my life is obstacle-free infuriates me. They expect more from me than they do from their own is that fair?! It's peer pressure on a whole different level, and it's unbearable.

And it's not just regarding my studies.
"Someone like you must be having boys lining up at your door!"
I'm sorry, what?! WTF does 'someone like me' mean? Last time I checked, insecure, highly strung female engineers with no physical assets whatsoever weren't really high up on the 'desirability' scale. I wish people would quit the whole 'talking just for the sake of conversation' thing.

I don't really know where I'm going with this post. The positivity of a few days ago disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Looking at CVs was demoralising. I only managed to do half of what I was supposed to do today. And I'm as lonely as hell. Yes I know I keep going on about it. But seriously, you know it's bad when you think "oh shit I forgot to wish Dave for his birthday"...and by 'Dave', you mean 'Comedy Dave' Vitty off of The Chris Moyles Show on Radio 1 (wished him now on twitter though, so it's OK). I think I'm actually going crazy.

If I ever have children, a part of me hopes that they're not high one deserves this pressure.


  1. good post PR.. i think what u say is very true, about over-achievers and the different form of peer pressure that comes with it.. and yet, at the same time, perhaps there is an inherent part of us that is overly critical of ourselves.. i know i am.. and sometimes ive needed those ppl to say those silly fake-positives just to push me thru..

    sometimes we jus struggle to believe what others say about us true, thats all..


  2. It's hard enough having our own misgivings about ourselves but to be pressured by outsiders coupled with expectations of the parents, it can all be a bit too much and if I were you, I would have broken down...not once, not twice but over and over.

    What's even more disheartening is that there's very little you can can help yourself and console yourself (even if it has taken time as you said) but there's very little we can when it comes to other people.

    Hang in there, darling PR. You'll get through this ... eventually *hugs*

  3. Just remember, you are a worthwhile person now no matter whatever happened in the past. Everyone has a different learning process and academic priorities change with time. Think about what is good about the way you have changed, not what is bad. Maybe you can try to make the "bad" change better?

  4. aww...moko mei..not the P i know...hug hug hugs

  5. Firstly - I forgot to wish Comedy Dave! :( Oh man, this is lame! Secondly - it is when you forget to do things like that. I can relate to what you mean. Having everyone's expectations thrust upon you is hard. I have recently taken a leaf out of A's book which is underpromise and overdeliver - that way people won't be disappointed! By the way - Sunday is on! :) And you can moan to me in person! x

  6. Dude, looking at CVs is enough to make anyone feel like the lowest form of life on earth. It's normal to feel that way, at least it is for most of the normal folk I know! That's also exactly why I'm refusing to look at, let alone attempt to update my CV right now. The last thing I need is a reality check now just before the viva!

  7. YOU felt like a failure?

    Talk about a pot calling itself a thimble.

    Or something along those lines. I cannot think of a metaphor.

    And nice pictures! Just saw most of em :D

  8. Gehan - You've got a point. I think over-achievers tend to be perfectionists, and part of the pressure to succeed is self-inflicted. But for me, the 'fake-positives' you mentioned just expose my own insecurities, and that generally makes things worse. I guess we all react differently.

    Sabby - Yeah you're right. I made an emergency 'panic call' to my mother yesterday and she said the same thing; people will always say things we wish they wouldn't, and there's nothing we can do about them...we can only change how we react. I'm still working on it.

    Anon - I think the 'bad' change is that my circumstances have changed. The work I do now is far more challenging than the work I did when I was younger (obviously), but people (including myself, to a certain extent) still expect me to perform the same. Unfortunately there's nothing I can do about that change.

    Dee - hehe see this is what I'm trying to remember the 'old' PR...she retired a while back :P

    Scrumps - Awww my 'Radio 1 groupie' buddy :D Yeah 'underpromise and overdeliver' is a good policy...except these people over-expect before I've had a chance to underpromise! :S

    Darwin - LOL I knooow. It doesn't help that my career aspirations are off the beaten track. *sigh*

    Jerry - What is this discrimination against pots eh? They're allowed to have identity crises too, ok? :P


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