Overachievement: what it does to students
October 29, 2021
Students of the 21st century often face an immense amount of pressure to be incredibly successful and productive. For some, these expectations push them to be their best and most developed selves. However, this pressure to achieve an unrealistic amount of aspirations leads to a highly stressful daily life for students.
An overachiever is an individual who works consistently above the expected or average level. Students across the country constantly struggle with overachievement, often due to the competitive college application process. Many students may feel pressured to take on an array of difficult classes without consideration for their well-being. Several factors can only add to a student’s motivation to overachieve – parents’ expectations, expectations of self, and more.
Many students who wish to go to challenging and competitive colleges struggle with a “perfection” mentality. These students try to achieve “perfect” qualifications throughout their school tracks, such as straight A’s, numerous extracurriculars, honor roll distinctions, and increased involvement in school activities. Yet, perfection for young teens is merely impossible to reach.
Perfectionism has proved to have a direct correlation with the development of mental illness among young adolescents. Studies of perfectionism have shown its relation to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health problems.
Junior Laine Cuva (‘23) shares her experience with the pressure to obtain many high achievements: “I feel like everyone tries to push you to do your best or better than your best, both in and out of school. Balancing all of that can be hard and overwhelming. Pressure from teachers, parents, coaches, and more can get kind of stressful, especially as the school year kicks back up.” says Cuva.
High-achieving students with tremendous goals often place their self-worth upon how successful they are in school and extracurricular activities. Thus, low grades to an overachiever – likely only a B – can plummet their confidence, mental health, and self-image.
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Unfortunately, the distinction between high functioning anxiety and overachievement is often blurred. An individual with high functioning anxiety operates incredibly similar to how an overachiever might, and commonly the two are found in conjunction with one another. As a result, the care needed to maintain mental well-being and care for possible mental health issues can be left ignored.
To avoid being burdened with mental health issues as an overachieving student, hard-working teens can begin to make small changes in their lifestyle and mindset to feel better overall. With time, students can transform their perspectives on productivity levels and prioritize their happiness and comfort. These changes can be simple. Perhaps celebrating little achievements, cultivating a relaxing and de-stressing environment at home, or understanding the underlying positive effects failure can bring.
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For students, having the motivation to set and accomplish great goals is not a harmful concept. However, overachievement often lends itself to anxiety, perfectionism, burnout, and overall dissatisfaction within a teen’s life.