Overachievers struggle in search of perfection

Overachievers struggle in search of perfection

37.3% of students have three to hours of homework each night.

Junior Margaret McGuirk stares at the huge pile of homework looming over her. With an essay and part of a novel to read for AP English, homework problems for Honors Pre-Calculus, a worksheet for Honors Physics, and a presentation for AP French, she takes a deep breath and realizes it will be a long night.

McGuirk is an overachiever. According to merriam-webster.com, an overachiever can be defined as “one who achieves success over and above the standard or expected level especially at an early age.”

In particular, McGuirk excels at academics. She is ranked number one in the junior class.

“I think that I am incredibly blessed to be ranked first, and I put a lot of hard work into it, but I don’t think it really impacts who I am or how I act,” McGuirk said.

This year McGuirk is taking three AP weighted classes and three honors classes. Next year, she is planning on taking four AP weighted classes and one honors class. McGuirk does not waste her time inside or outside of school, instead choosing to involve herself in extracurriculur activities. Not only is she involved in Speech and Debate and the Romero Club for JC, she also manages the field hockey team in the fall and participated in the spring musical.

“Outside of school, I own a horse and ride at least five days a week. I also volunteer at Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding and am currently attending training sessions for the Student Summer Program at the National Aquarium,” she said.

Being so involved has given McGuirk the opportunity to “try different things.”

“I am involved in all of my clubs and activities because I genuinely enjoy them and the people in them, not just to get them on my college transcript or show off how many things I can do,” McGuirk said.

Like McGuirk, junior Alex Gromacki enjoys being labeled as an overachiever because all of the classes and activities she is involved in “helps me create relationship and connect with people,” she said.

Through her five AP or Honors level courses, four sports teams, and involvement in Girl Scouts, Gromacki believes that participating in all of these activities “sets me up for opportunities in the future,” she said.

Not all students are overachievers, however. “I am, by no means, an overachiever, and when I see those who fall under that category, I’m glad to see that our school isn’t totally made of unmotivated morons,” senior Andy Beain said.

Sophomore Jake Kahoe is an overachiever, though, taking five honors classes this year, and three AP classes and two honors classes next year. In addition, he participates in football, indoor track, rugby for a club team, SAC, and the Respect Life Club.

Although being an overachiever may seem like a good thing, there are drawbacks. “I have little free time and don’t get enough sleep a lot of the time,” Kahoe said.

“The biggest challenge is managing time. There are times when I just want to do nothing for an hour, or take a nap, or even read a book, and I can’t because I have too much work,” McGuirk said.

In addition, the pressure of a heavy work load can become a lot to handle. “I have a lot of anxiety, pretty much all the time. Even though I love being involved in all my activities and I enjoy my classes, sometimes the work load can be really overwhelming,” McGuirk said.

According to psychology teacher Dr. Paul Lazor, “some people are overachievers because they think they need to be perfect, which is unhealthy because no one is perfect.”

In addition, he said that overachieving is not normally “for external purposes.”

“They seem to be driven by intrinsic things, intrinsic motivation, not necessarily external rewards,” he said.

Kahoe overachieves because he “wants to be better than everyone else.” According to him, “teachers like me more and it’ll give me more opportunities.” With his family and girlfriend as his major source of motivation, he plans on continuing to overachieve.

For McGuirk, “being a perfectionist” motivates her. She often holds herself “to very high standards” and hates “letting myself or others down.”

Gromacki enjoys being known as an overachiever because “it shows that I am working hard and I am determined to be successful,” she said.

In the end, McGuirk has found “being an overachiever is exhausting, yet strangely rewarding.”

Brianna Glase is the Online Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com, Hope Kelly is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.