All my life I have been teased for being an overachiever.
It’s not that I’m some kind of genius… or even particularly good at anything really. I did well at school and I’ve done well at work since, but I was never THE smartest, THE fastest, THE prettiest, THE funniest or THE best at anything at all. Yesterday I mentioned some of the many prizes I’ve won in competitions. What you’ll quickly notice is that none of those prizes were for awarded for talent (unless you consider being the fastest to dial through to a radio station a “talent”). Sure, I’ve got a ream of 90 GSM mottled pink paper with “Principal’s Award” plastered on each sheet, but in sports I’ve never won anything more than a trophy for participation, and in academia I’ve never won more than those delightful paper certificates (which were handed out with reckless abandon at our school).
Actually, there was that one time at uni that I won a CASH PRIZE for an essay I wrote on disability discrimination… but I suspect that had more to do with the fact that I was the only person in the class who dared to go outside the set reading and write about something other than sex or sexuality-based discrimination. I bought a gold watch with the prize money, which just goes to show how horribly deprived I have been of recognition for my limited achievements.
My point is that I find it funny that over the years people have looked at me and said “She has something I wish I had”. There’s absolutely no basis for that claim and I’ll tell you why…
I am a decidedly average person. I am not the best at anything and I’m probably not the worst at anything either. I sit somewhere comfortably in the middle, still, at nearly 30 years of age, wondering what my “hidden talent” could possibly be. Over the years I’ve come to do more of the things I feel I’m good at (like writing and sewing) and less of the things I seriously suck at (like art and science). Some people probably wish they could write or spell a little better, just as I wish I could paint something remotely aesthetically pleasing.
But them’s the breaks.
In reality I’m not really an overachiever… I’m just an achiever. I’ve made lots of choices in my life where I’ve chosen the route that required effort instead of the lazy route, and as a result I’ve had lots of fun experiences. It’s not that I think I’m awesome or better than anyone else… I just don’t care if I’m not. I’ll happily take up singing lessons, for example, knowing full well that I can’t sing, just because I want to prove to myself that I really can’t before I write myself off completely. And who cares if I’m a crappy singer anyway? The only people who have to suffer it are the people who ride with me on road trips (who can accept the ear-bashing in lieu of chipping in for petty) and anyone within hearing range of my shower.
So, basically, Andy.
Andy thinks I have the voice of an angel anyway (because love is deaf as well as blind) so the fact that I’m tone-deaf is really only torture for my singing teacher and no one else.
In the past few weeks I’ve come to discover that a few people have decided to take up “Top 30” challenges of their own. So far I know of at least 4 people who have set themselves a similar challenge (including one person I’ve never met). This is in addition to a number of people who’ve told me they’ve set mini-challenges for themselves. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so proud.
If I were an American politician I’d probably spend the next 5 minutes telling you how “humbled” I am by the experience… but I’m an Aussie and I know the real meaning of that word. I’m not humble at all! I’m patting myself on the back so hard I’m having flashbacks of ‘Nam.
I’m proud of myself for “Being the change I want to see in the World” and I’m proud of my friends for equally providing links in that chain. The ripple effect of one of the best decisions I’ve ever made is staggering to me.
Average Joes, all of us, we’ve decided that life is too short to sit around being jealous of the Average Joe next to us who’s achieved something we’ve always wanted to achieve for ourselves. We’re not changing the World or inventing World Peace over here – we’re just choosing to put in that little bit more effort on a weeknight to do something that registers above “mundane” on the Richter scale.
When I started this challenge, I started because I was bored, I started because I was a little bit sad about my Dad, and I started because I was desperately trying to search for things to distract me from the incessant ticking of my biological clock (which happens to be of the cuckoo variety, in case you were wondering). When I compiled my list of tasks (ranging from inane to insane) little did I suspect that it would result in this feeling that I have somehow “paid forward,” in the most positive of ways, the happy consequence of what was the most difficult time of my privileged life.
I am openly and shamelessly in love with my darling fiancé. You can’t put that down to pre-wedded bliss if you like, but I know all the real reasons, and not the least of them is this: Andy taught me that I can be whatever I want to be in life. I don’t mean this in that frustrating “Oprah” way I’ve described before, but in a very real sense. I’m not going to turn up at the next ‘Australian Idol’ audition for example, but I do know that if I want to take a singing lesson, I can. I know that if I want to be less of a stress-head then all I need to do is tap into the little kernel of my personality that’s not stressed and then give it praise and attention until it puffs its chest out and shoves the anxious parts out of the way. I now know that it doesn’t matter that I’m not THE best at anything, and that it’s fine to just have a go anyway.
My friends and I have often commented how amazing it feels to be in our late twenties. All of a sudden we’ve stopped caring what anyone else thinks and we finally feel free to do what makes us happy instead. What makes me happy is ticking off a list of ridiculous tasks one-by-one and then seeing other people do the same.
For as many times as I’ve been labelled an “overachiever” in my life, I’ve been labelled a “whinger” at least 4 times as often. Being a whinger is no fun and, since I don’t want to be a whinger, I’m not going to be one today.
Today I am very happy to be alive. Today I’m going to forget about modesty and say that I’m really pretty pleased with the little life I’ve got going for myself over here and I couldn’t possibly recommend it highly enough.
Today I want to share the message that what you want in life is yours for the taking.
And, because I can’t sing, what better way to end my post than to let a professional do the singing for me? (Go on, listen to it. I double dare ya!)