Overachievers: What drives them to work so hard?

Fear of failing? Desire to be the best? Seeking attention? Or do they just want to be “good enough”?

Overachievers: What drives them to work so hard?

Haeleigh Bayle, Reporter

“You’re such a try-hard.”

So many students get called this every year, but it makes no sense. Why would you say something hurtful to someone who’s just trying to succeed? Instead of praising or congratulating others for their great work ethic, individuals can be belittled because of it. Throughout your high school (and school in general) career, there are always those select few who are labeled as “overachievers.” Perhaps you are the overachiever, maybe it’s your best friend, brother, sister, or just a fellow classmate. Whoever it is, I’m sure you’ve had the slight inclination to find out what drives them to do the absolute best on everything. Some reasons may shock you and leave you baffled, while others won’t surprise you at all.

Some students work so hard because they have this constant fear of failing. The fear of failing may drive a student to spend three hours studying and doing unnecessary work because they don’t want to fall behind. This in turn, can lead to them being labeled as an “overachiever.” For honor student Carter Slocum, failing just isn’t an option. He said, “…I do work harder in fear of failing…for a test. I have very bad anxiety for school and I will end up over-studying because I always feel like I’ll be unprepared.” In dread of a bad grade, some students will start to go over the top in preparation, trying to make sure they remember every…last…detail. Having a failing grade would not only hurt their GPA (grade point average) but it could even hurt their chances at getting into the school’s they have wanted–which would result in a lot of unhappiness.

Another reason why overachievers have their drive is because they have an intense desire to not only do their best but be the best. Trying to be the best isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s only bad if someone lets it control them. Trying to do the best/be the best is a prominent reason for overachievers to have the drive that they have. The sense of accomplishment and success is what drives overachievers to do the best they possibly can. When they achieve their goal, they then feel like they need to just keep going over the top in hard work to keep gaining the sense of accomplishment and praise from others.

Of course, some overachievers get to where they are because of their drive to get recognized for their good works. Everybody enjoys getting a pat on the back and a “good job” every now and then. However, some people let this need of attention drive them and be their only source of happiness. This can then turn into something negative very quickly because the overachiever is letting other people’s praise control them. What will they do when someone doesn’t congratulate them for once? Not getting the praise they have tried so hard for could push the student over the edge and cause them to instead become the opposite of an overachiever: an underachiever.

Lastly, some of the overachievers work as hard and tirelessly as they do because they only want to have the sense of being “good enough.” Too many kids/students are told they aren’t good enough by either other students, some teachers, parents, and even close friends. This longing to be “good enough” can then drive students to go above and beyond in everything they do, trying to prove to others around them that they can be good enough. Not only does this hurt the student physically, but mentally and socially as well. When repeatedly told that they aren’t going to measure up, this can cause them to be thrown into a fit of working without rest to not only finish something but have it perfectly done. This in turn can deplete their physical health by the lack of sleep, their mental health with being told they aren’t good enough, and social health– not wanting to see anybody in fear of being made fun of again. Being an overachiever to “measure up” is a very common problem. About 45.5% of students have said that they suffer with low self-esteem. This in turn is what drives them to try to “measure up” to others in the classroom. Taylor Moats, a freshman, also had something to say about her experiences with overachieving in an attempt to “measure up” to others. She stated, “When I know that I am one of the smarter kids in the class, I feel like I need to get my work done faster because I have to overachieve and be ‘the smart’ kid in the class.” This goes to show that even those who are the smarter of a class feel the constant pressure to overwork themselves in an attempt to really show how smart they are and to quickly/efficiently get things done. The pressure of overachieving isn’t just for those who are in the middle rang of GPAs. Overachieving can happen with anyone.

Instead of looking down at those who try so hard in school and are labeled as “try-hards,” congratulate them for putting so much effort into their schoolwork. Maybe even ask if they could share helpful study tips. Overall, just start a conversation with them, and let them know how great you think they are at a certain subject.

Now that you know why students try so hard during their studies, let’s all be more understanding of each other throughout our high school career. Being more understanding will help those who feel like they “aren’t enough” to suddenly feel good enough. There are so many more reasons why people who are overachievers work as hard as they do, so go to www.verywellmind.com to find out more reasons why they work so hard–maybe it will help you to be more understanding of them.  And for all you overachievers out there, you have studied enough, you aren’t going to fail that test, and most important of all, you are good enough.