All throughout our days at school, we want to achieve A’s in all our classes. Our parents want us to achieve A’s in all our classes. Our teachers want us to achieve A’s in all our classes. But, is there a possibility of overachieving something? The word overachiever is often misused as an insult to someone, when in reality it should be used as a compliment.. I believe the word overachieve should be used when a person describes their own goal they set, not to describe the characteristics or personality of someone.
The word overachieve is most commonly used in relationship to education and school. The American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary defines the word as “To perform better or achieve more success than expected “. This definition can apply to life inside and outside of school. As a 17 year old high school student, I have heard this word used most frequently when it applies to school work/sports. After tests and quizzes and pretty much anything with a letter grade, kids love to compare scores with one another. If you failed, you got laughed at. If you got 100%, you got called an overachiever or geek. If you google “ overachieve definition” the phrase they use the word in is “overachieving geeks” which is an extremely negative way to use it. Kids today think of the word overachiever as a derogatory word, when it truly should represent someone who is at the highest level of success and achievement. Never should someone be made to feel bad because they chose to go above and beyond.
The word overachieve can also be observed more deeply and personally in the minds of people. Many people feel that they aren’t accepted, or that they don’t fit into this society. These people often try to accomplish more than expected, to fill the gap of self-acceptance they lack. For example, you have a high school student who has never truly been accepted by his parents or family members. He is often pushed aside because his brother is more athletic. This boy might try to join every club, and ace every test, to get that acceptance and love that he desperately craves from his family. Instead of confronting his problems, he attempts to over exceed in things in attempt to achieve that self-acceptance. On the flip side, some parents pressure their kids into being at the top of their class and being the most successful. An average grade point average of 3.0 may be viable for some families, but some extreme parents will accept nothing other than a perfect 4.0 gpa. Parents can have a substantial influence on the educational achievements of their kids.
As a society, we associate happiness and success in life based on whether you do well in school and obtain a high GPA average. Alexandra Robbins wrote the book, The Overachievers, where he demonstrates how overachievement in school leads to problems (Forbes). In this article, the writer says “overachieving is not worth the price we pay to look good on paper” to inform readers that giving up your social life, and putting yourself under immense amount of stress is not worth the educational prosperity. Many students Robbins interviewed all over the country explain how the idea of overachieving effected them in a negative way (NY Times).
I don’t think the word overachieve is harmful and shouldn’t be used, I think at times this word can be used in a positive way. In work or at school, the word overachieve can be used as a verb when discussing goals you set for yourself. For example, in work you are a salesman whose salary is based off of the sales you make. If you set a goal of selling $100,000 of sales that year and sold $120,000 you overachieved your goal. Goals and milestones leave no room for interpretation, you either did worse, even, or better than you original expected to. Using overachieve as an adjective or noun puts labels on people that can bring them down.
The word overachieve has multiple ways of being used. Most people see the word as a burden to themselves as seen in the non-fiction book, The Overachievers. Parents and fellow peers can have a major effect on the mentality of a student, which in turn effects how high they shoot for when trying to accomplish things in school. The social norms of society also play a big role in shaping the definition and use of the word overachiever. To me, the word overachieve should never be used when describing someone else, but instead to describe something YOU yourself did. If we as a society take out the pressure and negativity the word overachiever puts on a person, then maybe people will begin to accept who they are instead of trying to underachieve or overachieve in attempt to fit in in life. People tend to believe the idea that success in school leads to success in life, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. . You don’t have to go to college to be happy, and you don’t have to accomplish something significant to feel you have made a difference in this world. We as a society must change how we use the word overachieve in our culture to better encourage young men and women to strive for the best.