The game

Whether it’s in the cloistered halls of high school or the confines of a tiny dorm room, most of us have taken part in the overachievement game. I know because I’ve been doing it for years.

It all originates from the grumbling guffaw of “you aren’t good enough,” which builds an insatiable hunger. There’s always someone outracing us and for that, we punish ourselves with the notion that everything out of our control is our fault.

But it isn’t and to delude ourselves regularly probably borders on self-abuse.

In high school, I sobbed out all my anxieties at night while earning the nickname “dragon lady” during the day. The hunger for success had always pushed me.

Sometimes I look back on high school and wonder if I had any fun—I didn’t.

By the time university started, I was burned out. I spent nights doing nothing but watching television instead of studying for the science program I didn’t yet know I hated.

In first year it felt like someone kept hitting the back of my head, telling me that I wasn’t good enough.

Everyone else was better and stronger than I was. Pretending to enjoy the university experience became a habit. I stopped reading books and forgot what it felt like to genuinely like something, or someone.

Easy conversations were rare as I drew back from situations that I would normally jump for. I got fatter.

That’s when I decided I deserved it. There was no fighting from my end, no pushing myself in order to get what I wanted.

I stopped being so delightfully stubborn and just started letting things happen without giving myself any say in the matter.

Some time has passed since that distinct period of my life where I ended the day unsatisfied, feeling like I accomplished nothing. I now end it with a sigh of weariness, but also content.

I don’t know if I’m still watching myself lose, but now this is what I see: I’m involved in school again. I fight back. I care if my grades are slipping or if I’m hurting a friend.

Don’t prematurely burn yourself out. Instead of appreciating your achievements, you’ll hate what you did to yourself to get them. These are things I learned during my first year at Queen’s.

By third year I learned that achievements can come without overexertion and self-hatred. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the overachievement game. It’s not worth it.

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