The Overachiever

Back at school there were always at least a couple of people who just seemed to be good at pretty much everything. Their grades would always be top notch, they were always playing in (and probably winning) a wide range of sports competitions and on top of everything else, they also happened to be very artistic. Which led to the rest of us putting ourselves down occasionally, while getting rather jealous, whether we were actually prepared to admit it at the time or not. Once you left school, you would imagine that as they went on to university and eventually into work, they would only go on and continue to achieve greater things. Nonetheless, imagine being at school or university for that matter and not having any down time or any time for enjoyment. It would make life rather boring, and it would be incredibly exhausting! And think, if you achieved so much at such a young age, and everything was perfect, you may then end up being incredibly afraid to get anything below, even if it would still end up working out in your favour…

What is the Overachiever? 

The overachiever refers to someone who is “driven to do and have the most, and the best.” Often the idea of “former gifted kids” is incorporated into the mix, where people who were incredibly smart usually during primary or secondary school, have now found that they have come to a bit of a halt as they enter adulthood. The reasons for this could include burnout, past pressures, or the fact that they find that dealing with the things that adulthood throws at us is a lot harder for them than simply achieving a lot within an academic environment. But surely someone who did well during school should be set up to do well, and hopefully be happy later in life, providing that they received sufficient support from their parents and others around them…

The Positive Side of the Overachiever 

If you spent your school years competing in certain competitions and partaking in various things like the duke of Edinborough award, you tend to learn a lot about yourself, including about your own strengths and weaknesses. Making it easier to know how to answer those odd questions that get thrown around at job interviews, therefore making it more likely that you will get the job. Furthermore, it should mean that people have more idea of what they want to do career wise, meaning that they are set up for a career more tailored to their strengths, thus they should be more likely to succeed as adults. What is more, is that it means there are more things to put on the CV. Therefore, it is easy to see how overachieving at an early age could put one in a good stead to attain success as an adult. 

The Downside of being an Overachiever 

To start with, it may be harder for overachievers to fit in, which may result in bullying. Meaning that although their school experience would be “successful,” they may not feel happy while there. What is more, if they become hyper fixated on achieving as much as possible, this could result in elevated stress, which could increase the risk of them struggling with mental health problems. It could also ironically result in the over achiever having incredibly low self esteem, because of them being more likely to attach their self worth to their achievements, instead of them being able to see their value just as a person. Meanwhile, they are more likely to become excessively upset if they make a small mistake, rather than sweep it under the carpet. Furthermore, the more someone tries to do with their lives, the more likely they are to procrastinate. This is because overachievers are often likely to be perfectionists, and concerning perfectionism, anything that is not the best simply is not good enough. Meaning that it is likely the perfectionist could also be afraid at trying things in case it does not go as well as they wish. This could constraint the liklihood of people who are very capable and talanted of attaining the successes they are capable of later in life.

Why are there so Many Overachievers 

It does not help that we are embedded in a culture which is driven by competition and perfectionism, where success is defined by status, performance, and appearance. This means that young people are more likely to turn to wanting to achieve more, to be viewed in a more positive light. Moreover, these values are transmitted to children nonverbally through adult’s emotional states and through what they notice, are impressed with, and praise or discourage in them. Which is unsurprising considering the culture we are in. Therefore, while parents may be unaware that they are putting their children under a lot of pressure, parents could still nonverbally give off the message that they are happier with their children when they are achieving things like higher grades. Meanwhile, the education system exerts a lot of pressure on young people. 

Overachievers and Privilege 

On top of schoolwork, often overachivers are likely to attend a vast range of extra curriculiar activities. And as you can guess, this is going to cost money. Therefore, in order to achieve loades as a young person, it really helps if your parents are wealthy. Furthermore, if one is from a privileged background, then it is more likely that they will end up at a private or selective school, which again makes it more likely that they will attain higher grades. 

How to make things better for the Overachiever? 

To make things easier for people who are likely to be “overachievers,” to start with it is important that parents can recognise the potential downsides associated with this. This way, they should arrange activities for the child to partake in for the sake of enjoyment, rather than for the sake of attaining as many awards as possible. Moreover, schools should recongise the importance of not putting too much pressure on young people. What I would say really does not help, is the recent changes to the GCSE system making it from A* to E, to 9-1, where it becomes harder to achieve the very top grade. Finally, it is important to consider the culture we are in, which is hyperfocused on productivity, which is partly the cause of pressures that young people face in the first place. 

Overall then, it can be seen why being an over achiever will not always necessarily be a positive thing for young people, because of the consequences associated with it. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of ways in which the pressure upon young people can be reduced. 

Link to my Podcast on this Post!

Published by Personally_Political

Hello! This is a mainly a blog containing posts concerning social, political and economic issues, although the commentary is mainly based on opinion. My name is Victoria, and I am the creator and currently the only contributor to this blog, and I am 19 years old and studying PPE at Swansea. Also, I am currently looking for writers for here, content creators on Instagram and designers. However the role would be very flexible according to what you would like to do. Therefore, if you or anyone you know would be interested in getting involved, then please don't hesitate to contact me at

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