Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Thesis on Overachievement

Did I even spell the word right? From now on overachieve will be referred to as OA, overachiever as OAer, overachievement as OAment and so on, just so I don't have to type the word over and over again.

According to Dictionary.com, the first 3 definitions of an "overachieve" are:
  1. to perform, esp. academically, above the potential indicated by tests of one's mental ability or aptitude.
  2. to perform better or achieve more than expected, esp. by others.
  3. To perform better or achieve more success than expected.

So, for somebody to be labelled an OAer, he or she has somehow exceeded the expectations or goals set by others. Am I the only one who thinks there's a problem with that? So, because my weed smoking, Jack drinking man living next door to my parents thinks women should graduate from high school, and that's all the education they need ... I guess I am an overachiever.

Or because some people think skating through school on C's should be enough ... I am an overachiever.

Because the people down the street working at the Mickey D's are happy with their minimum wage job, and think everyone else should be too ... I am an overachiever?

I understand these might be extreme examples but what difference does it make if somebody thinks 5.25 an hour is enough or a second somebody thinks 100,000 a yr is a high enough goal ... they will respectively think a person making 10 an hour or a person making 150,000 is an OAer.

I have not read the news articles and the columns lately arguing against and for OAing and OAers. I am not arguing what they say; I am just saying what I believe. We need to stop arguing whether OAment is right or wrong. What we need to do is evaluate the educational system in this country and figure out what's wrong. Something has to be going wrong somewhere in the nation if we're not meeting the basic 3R standards for students graduating from high schools.

I agree that making your children or students work extra hard and maybe more than their aptitude, so they can get into a difficult school and then go on to do a job they might not even like, is wrong. But, that doesn't mean that the children who actually have their own aspirations of making it big, of going to a big name school and working for a big name company should be labeled OAers and pointed at and heads shook at. Don't you agree, you Michigan graduates working at some world famous big name companies now? Or are you looking at yourselves in the mirror, shaking your head at yourselves and wishing you hadn't OAed. Are you working there because your peers or parents said that's what your goal should be or because you wanted to? If you did it because others said you should, well then you achieved the goals they set for you and that does NOT make you an OAer based on the word's simple definition. And, if you did it on your own, then you might be an OAer if they thought you did more than they thought you could have done.

A friend of mine says that "life isn't a race or a competition." Like hell it's not! What do you think you are all doing when you write those personal essays to graduate schools? You are competing for the very few scholarships or even admissions that school gives out. How about the resumes you put out on Monster, HotJobs or just your school's career site? You are competing against the thousands others who are applying to the same job. Why do you work hard at your job? You are trying to race to the top.

Not saying it has to be like that. You don't want a well paying job, a nice house in the 'burbs where your kids can run around the yard without worries, the 1 car per household individual, the flatscreen bigscreen LCD tv, clothes not bought on sales all the time, suits with a designer label, and add on to this whatever you worked towards when you went through school and whatever you are working towards now. You don't want any of this? Then forget anything I said. You don't have to do well, or compete, or even care.

It doesn't matter if you get C's through school or straight A's, you can be an overachiever by the dint of other people goal setting for you. Even the C graders are going to hve to compete for a job; it might not be at Google, Microsoft or Lockheed; but it is still a competition. Anybody who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.


srah said...

Eeek. I have no interest in being at the top and having millions of LCD TVs. I would much rather be happy at my lower-paying job.

apete said...

Hmmm...I guess I don't consider myself an OA...I know I can do better at many things but I don't because I prefer the free time. Even now, I would give up a few K for some more free time. I mean one of the reasons that I went to grad school was to get out of the rat race.

Sylvie said...

You cannot decide whether you yourself are an OAer or not, others get to do it for you. I think you have done more than what I think you should have done. So, you OAed.

I thought most people went to grad school so they would have better credentials to succeed in the rat race. That was my reason.

A said...

For me, the problem with OAing too much means that I'm constantly competing with others, even though there will always be someone "better" than me.

I don't like thinking I'm comparing myself to another to figure out how much I am better at something than they are, or how much they are better at something than I.

I find it comforting to just need to be happy with myself and do the best that I can, and not what other people set out for me.

(I'm being all touchy-feely. Sorry.) :)