I am what they call an overachiever. I remember being in a graduate class years ago working in a group. I was working in a group, because at some point in educational research it was discovered that was a good idea. I am not opposed to cooperative learning, because I am very social. In this particular group there was a woman a bit older than me that I found her unpleasant. With assignments out, I was explaining to our group what I had completed. That unpleasant woman snorted overachiever. I remember being very insulted. After all, I grew up in a community, family and time period in which you aimed for excellence. Now, according to popular opinion I spent a lot of my youth somewhere other than in excellence, but that was what was expected. To put it bluntly, the motto at my house growing up was, don’t do a half ass job. I never really understood a half ass job until I became a teacher and parent. So to be called an overachiever was an insult, because I was just trying to not half ass the job.
Being an overachiever plays nasty trick with your mind. Some say it is perfectionism, others say overachiever, I say it is insanity. It is insane, because you drive yourself and people around you crazy. And I lived on the highway of insanity for a really long time. I would beat myself up all the time about what I had not achieved, what was not perfect and what must still be done.
Around 10 years ago I was at a neighborhood social. We live in a very eclectic neighborhood, which I love, so the guests that evening had varying experiences and backgrounds. I was involved in a conversation. like many before, in which I was apologizing for not having a career any longer. For some reason, taking care of two small children around the clock really didn’t see like enough to me. Do you see what I mean about the crazy part? In that conversation was a much older woman, she was a professor at local university. She looked in my tired, young mother eyes. She said, ” You can have it all just not all at the same time.” That was revoluntionary to me. This kind lady had been a mother, wife and when her children had grown she earned her doctorate and become a professor. I did manage to receive my masters degree a few years later, but the difference was I did it because the opportunity presented itself. I did not do it out of feeling I must. I finally stopped apologizing for caring for my children and not working outside the home. Best of all, when I feel impatient or stress about not reaching goals, I now say I can have it all, just not all at one time.