The Overachieving Underachiever


Are you an Underachiever or an Overachiever?

Is your answer based on hard evidence, the opinion of others or a personal view?

Have you always been an Underachiever / Overachiever or is this a more recent realisation?

I would say most people would admit to being Underachievers. Whether it’s feelings of modesty, our level of self-confidence or a fear of the Tall Poppy Syndrome if we stick our head up, most of us tend to downplay our abilities.


The self-confessed Overachiever is rare. But if you are one, feel free to confess in the comments below. You can balance out all the self-confessed Underachievers. All on your own. Because you’re an Overachiever, right?


I suppose you could be one of those truly rare breeds – the Normalachiever. One of those who believes they achieve just the right number of things at just the right level of attainment. If this is you, I give you my deepest admiration. Also, I hate you.

Not really.

Well, maybe just a little bit.

So which one are you?


Which one am I?

Ah. There’s another category for the Jacks of All Trades of the world. We are the Overachieving Underachievers.


Jacks of All Trades always see themselves as Underachievers. It’s in the name. Why else would we claim to be “Master of None”?

To the outsider, however, a Jack of All Trades appears as an Overachiever. “You mean you run half-marathons, write songs and can fix computers? What can’t you do??”

But a Jack of All Trades does all these things because she is looking for that one thing at which she might actually excel. That one thing she can achieve at the standard she expects of herself. And because a Jack of All Trades always views herself as an Underachiever, that standard – in her eyes, at least – is never attained.


And just so you really understand, here’s an example of how a Jack of All Trades’ mind might work:

Let’s say a Jack of All Trades completes a half-marathon. Unless she wins the half-marathon this is an underachievement. If she does win a half-marathon, this is still an underachievement because it isn’t a full marathon. If she goes on to win a full marathon, well, other people run ultra-marathons, don’t they? If she then wins an ultra-marathon (you realise this is all hypothetical, right? really, really hypothetical…), did she win it in the fastest time ever run? If she did, was it the hardest ultra-marathon you can do? And so on and so forth.

See? Overachieving Underachiever.

Now excuse me while I go and decide whether to take up the bagpipes or pole-vaulting…



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