So I am An Overachiever or am I?There are dozens of posts about overachievers
here's one at huffington post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/13/overachiever-signs_n_4740534.html
It has been said to me many times that I am an over achiever. I said jokingly to my daughter that one of my blog visitors suggested O be for overachiever and she said "hi Mum". So she thinks I am an over achiever and her doctor said to her "You don't have to be like your mother, heck no one could be like your mother." and yet I don't think I am over achieving, in fact I think I am under achieving. Under achieveing for what I believe I am capable of. Admittedly when I was a gold star volunteer I was volunteering for 15 organisations and when I couldn't go get my hand shake from the premier it was because I was busy ferrying foster kids from one appointment to the other and yes way back in high school I did sit on the committee of quite a few extra curricular activities and held down three part time jobs and babysat. I think I am lazy. I also often consider myself a failure because I don't finish things if I get bored or distracted.
What I would prefer to be is a High Performer. More organised and self disciplined and less likely to undervalue myself and my skills.
O for Organised sounds like a pretty good thing to be.
In Penelope Trunk's blog post on the 15 things that overachievers do (http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2012/12/25/15-things-overachievers-do/) She gives the following headlines which I am going to self analyse with...
1. They use lists. I have lists coming out my ears. I have yellow sticky notes and calenders online and offline and a black board and the fridge magnets and gridded up windows and notebooks. I organise my thinking with lists and my shopping and break down ideas and I draw up tables to keep it in order.
2. They use pharmaceuticals. NA not me. I am a glass of water woman although i do use food as a comforter. I need a 12 step food control plan I think. Hey there is something I could draw a list up for.
3. They let doors shut all the time. Nothing is going to just drop in my lap and if it does then it is suspect. I want to know that I earned my kudos and did not hitch a free ride.
4. They talk about their weaknesses. People call me names if I tell them what I can do they say things like 'sure' and 'show off' and they roll their eyes and speak unpleasantly or avoid me in future or they say things like 'no on can live up to your expectations', 'no one can keep up with you', 'how am I supposed to follow that', 'you set the bar too high'. I didn't set a bar for anyone but me and would never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do myself so I coddle them and say
Hey I might be able to write 11,000 words in a day but sheesh I can't get the housework done. I then laugh at myself and make some self depreciating joke. I say things like 'gosh I can write a story but golly I can't keep a husband, no self respecting man would want a wife like me, I would make him feel redundant." you know those jolly joking things that fat lonely domineering overbearing women say to down play that they are actually highly motivated, caring, community minded and organised individuals helping with the 50,000 volunteer hours they give away freely of their time instead of being CEOs of corporations. That's me, life of the party I don't go to because frankly I don't get invited because I don't like the music and will wash all the dishes.
5. They work for free. I have undersold my skills and abilities all my life. I volunteered for so many places hoping to gain paid work but why would they pay an idiot like me when they can use me for free until I get sick of it an leave? I worked for one place who would not hire me as their coordinator of programs saying 'hey you have an amazing array of skills but you dont have the qualifiactions we are looking for' so they hired a kid fresh out of Uni with the paper who lasted six weeks. They hired me as a temp at quater the pay until they replaced the kid who lasted three months and they hired me at quater the pay until they replaced the kid with the paper and no skills. This went on for two eyars and finally they said "Hey we have great plans for you next year." I left the town. They were too late and had kicked me in the guts too often.
6. They drop out of school. I was born with a brain which I learned to sue very early in life. When I reached the first year of school early because they needed numbers, I was 2 weeks past my fourth birthday. The teacher told me I was not aloud to read out loud in class nor was I allowed to answer questions. This went on for three years except for one brief patch when I was transferred to a big city school for several weeks. They took me out of my class and put me in grade two with the very big kids. I must have been very naughty to be taken out of the fun class with the fish bowl and flowers and bright colours. I knew I must be a dunce or very naughty. I went back to the other school and back to the first class but I was a stranger again. In my first year of high school all the other kids used to go to the fun room once a week. I never went except once accidentally when a relief teacher sent me. The fun class had bright colours and pictures on the wall and when I walked in it looked like a wonderful place. The teacher said "What are you doing here? You don't belong here, go back to class at once." I must have been the stupidest girl in the whole year level. In mid high school a university was doing research and students were randomly picked across the state to sit the tests. I had been with the two testers for half an hour and they were very agitated. One reached across the table and scrunched up my paper. "Who sent her in here?" he hissed at the other "She will screw up the results." The other man looked at me and said "GO back to class, we can't use your results."
Failure failure failure I was mortified and so humiliated. I thought I had answered all their questions right. I was sure I was repeating all 27 of the numbers they threw at me and I can write dictation really fast and accurately. I know I spelled all the words. I dropped out of high school in final year.
I started Uni five times, college, TAFE. I have parts of six degrees and four diplomas and dozens of short courses and lesser certificates but I am definitely a failure.
7. They get tons of coaching. I learn. I learn and elarn and learn. I pay for people to coach me. I go to professional development over an above what my workplace ever requires and I do refreshers and I pick up every certificate I can. I attend online seminars and I read thesis papers. I listen to TED talks and watch Youtube classes. I may not have an actual degree on a piece of paper but I am certain I have a tool box of skills and experiential learning that would put me in good stead to do almost any job. Give me time and the right resources and I could do it if I set my mind to.
8. They get pregnant at 25. I had my first child at 19 just as my school predicted. 'kids and work in pubs' was the reason they gave for not letting me study physics, chemistry and general science and made me do economics, accounting and french. I have since had over 60 kids. I became a chef and worked in restaurants and pubs and school canteens.
9. They come out of the closet. If I had to come out of anything it would be a wardrobe but that is a continental divide.
10. They don’t talk about being well-rounded. Nope this isn't me either. I am a Cecilia of all trades, master of none. Until you consider that to be a master of anything takes x number of hours of practice at that thing. I think I have quite a few x hours up in several areas.
11. They don’t get divorced. I have been engaged five times, married once and divorced thrice.
Sounds crazy doesn't it. I sobbed so hard in the court when I failed at marriage the judge had to get someone to come in and comfort me, he ordered a glass of water be bought and I declared I never wanted a divorce, I didn't go into marriage expecting a use by date. My ex husband wasn't even there. He was off wining and dining his eleventh lady friend in a year.
12. They don’t write books. Well I am proving this wrong. I have a whole lot of writing going out into the world and art right along with it. To do this I need to take my dream and make it a reality. I have to work my fingers to the bone typing and creating, I have to network and study and attend events and get my name out there with brand recognition. I create good stories. I intend creating fantastic ones.
13. They don’t let themselves get fat. Oops I totally did so let myself get fat because food is my poison of choice. If I am sad, lonely, unhappy, angry or bored I go for the loaf of fresh bread and vegemite. I am a darn fine chef and the food I cook is scrumdillumptious so I eat it. :)
Everyone in my house is fat and it is all my fault! I love feeding people and feeding people means lots of food and hmmmm there is a pattern happening here.
14. They sell out. I do. I under sell my skills and talents. I down play them. I charge too little for my time and effort. I do the job for free and dont stand up for myself. I bend to appeals for 'mates rates' or the whole "under funded and gee it is not as if writing is rocket science'. <----Past Tense SCRRRRRRRRREEEECH! NO MORE! I am a writer, writing is my job. I am an artist, art is my job. I create things that are valuable and beautiful and rare. I will say that again. I CREATE THINGS WHICH ARE VALUABLE, BEAUTIFUL AND RARE. THEY ARE UNIQUE BECAUSE ONLY I CAN CREATE WHAT I CREATE.
15. They steal stuff. "Overachievers know they have tons of ideas so they don’t care if people steal some of theirs. Overachievers are more likely to bend the rules to make life easier for themselves. That’s why I stole the idea for this post from Thought Catalogue. " those are the words of Penelope Trunk who in turn had her article stolen by quite a few others including me. Why reinvent the wheel when I am keen to be writing other things.
16. This is my own personal addendum.Here is the sob story bit so you can go make your cuppa if you like or pop to some other blog. If you managed to make it this far you are amazing. My first teacher did not want me reading out loud because it would upset the other children. I could read at 3. Fluently. I started school at 4. I could already read and spell and do basic math. I read the encyclopedia at home. She did not explain why so I thought I was bad or naughty.
At high school it was a remedial class. I was the only student who didn't need it. They didn't explain that to me so I thought I was the only stupid kid.
My results would have skewed the research which was trying to prove that literacy levels were lowering dramatically and needed more funding in education. I didn't learn at school. I found this out when I went to Uni for the first time. No one ever explained things to me. I went through most of my first four decades believing I was worthless and stupid.
My family considered girls worthless, fat, ugly and stupid. That was the clear message, except for abuse. All the usual ugly stuff that sells books on ugly stuff was part of my childhood landscape. The one thing my childhood gave me was resilience. I get knocked down and I get up again.
If that makes me an over achiever then I guess that is what I am.
I want to take this moment to acknowledge that without the love and guidance of writers who kept me sane and gave me hope, who explained my life and showed me alternatives, who gave me worlds to hide in and dreams to aim for, without writers my life may have been very different. Writers are my heroes.