In my opinion and, using the analogy of who crossed the road first, an overachiever would cross the road to prove they could do it while a perfectionist would never cross the road as their unrealistic expectations would prevent them from ever realizing that the conditions were ideal to do so.
I definitely fall into the latter category and perhaps have stopped myself from being an overachiever because I’m a perfectionist.
Being a perfectionist is emotionally draining. The bar I’ve set for myself is so high that, no matter what I do, I can’t reach it. Somewhere along the line, I decided that being successful meant that I had to get a degree. I’m not talking about a certificate or a diploma, which I would definitely look at as an accomplishment for someone else. No, what I’m referring to is a BA, MA, PhD or other professional designation.
This idea may have manifested itself into my sub-consciousness because I come from a family of high achievers. My dad and brother both have PhDs and my mom has multiple degrees. Which, I’ve realized recently, has a big impact on how I see myself, what my definition of success is and why going back to school seems like such an important thing to do now.
But the fact is that I’m not an academic. I never have been and I never will be. I remember when I graduated from high school that I was the least likely of my friends to do post-secondary schooling, yet I was one of the few who did.
I love to read, I enjoy discussing why and how things work and I love wondering ‘what if’. But I’m more of a hands-on type of learner. I like figuring things out as they’re happening. Sometimes, and after the fact, I look at the theory aspect of what I’ve just learned to see if I’ve missed anything. I like to prove I can do something, but not that motivated to be the best at it.
Yet just because I haven’t been an academic before doesn’t mean I don’t have the capacity to be one. Perhaps I haven’t found the right topic or the right school. More likely, I’ve got to tear down those unrealistic expectations of myself that I’m so good at building and just be me.