To All The Overachievers Who Feel Like Underachievers

If you’ve clicked on this post then you probably know who you are. Smartest at eleven, top set by 14, average by 18. I was like this, and it makes you feel awful. You’re told who you are going to be when you’re four years old and your future is set for you. But I’m here to remind you that it’s not.

I Could Read When I Was Four

I could do Sudoku when I was six. This may seem like a brag but it isn’t. I am no better at Sudoku or reading than anyone else my age now. But when I was four, it was a huge deal. But, when you’re four, the bar is set pretty low. When you’re four some people were like Matilda, reading big, picture-less books and some people hadn’t ever seen one before. I got a sticker in class at that time for being able to spell the word ‘aerodynamic’, a word intended for kids twice my age, and I can still spell the word ‘aerodynamic’, but so can everyone else.

I Finished Primary School At The Top

I don’t know if I still would, the exams are much harder now than they were eight years ago, but I came out with level 5’s all round (for our non British counterparts, that was as high as you could get) and moved onto secondary school. They don’t tell you at the time, but if you achieve at Primary school then you must achieve from then on, and I did. I was especially good at maths and science and not so good at humanities such as geography. Somewhere along the way I learned that I both liked and was good at music. I enjoyed school and tried hard and everything was pretty good from there. Until they make you choose.

Did I Ever Really Choose My Options?

In year nine, we chose our options. I mean that heading both literally and metaphorically. Literally because they made you choose French if you were even half good at it, meaning that you were limited to only one of the options in that block. You were also made to do English, Maths and some sort of science. Metaphorically because I knew I was going to take Triple Science from the off. I had five choices to make and three of them were actually mine. I cheated the system a little and did the option I’d missed out on because of French after school, but that was besides the point, I was never really in control. I chose what I was good at and stuck with it.

A ‘C’ At A Level Is Worth More Than An ‘A*’ At GCSE

I got one A* at GCSE, seven As, 2 Bs and a C. At A Level, I got a B and 2 Cs. I could have done better and I was disappointed in myself a little but, because they use the same letters to represent different achievements, I forgot one vital thing. My A* was in Maths, I was good at maths, but it was the C at A Level. I feel compelled at this moment to try and justify that even to this day. I might tell you how I found it hard to focus, I needed to take time I just didn’t have, I didn’t revise enough. All of that may well be true, but so is the fact that an A2 C is progress from a GCSE A*. I didn’t give myself enough credit for that because society is based on where you are with no consideration for where you’ve been.

At Twenty, It’s A Level Playing Field

Okay so some people will go and get higher qualifications than others. I am going to uni to become a writer purely because I have A Levels and it can’t do me any harm. But the fact of the matter is that I am here, writing. I don’t even have an A Level in English and I am writing online with the goal of doing it full time. I could have no qualifications and be doing that. I am firmly in the middle now: bright enough to get by, not so smart that I’m going out to become a doctor or a scientist. But that doesn’t matter because I never wanted to be one in the first place!

There’s A Message In Here Somewhere…

Don’t compare yourself to other people around you. If you grew up smart you were trained to because at the time it was a good thing: you came out on top. But when you look around at the people your age you don’t know or care how they did at school. My “boyfriend” from when I was eleven is going to study maths at Cambridge; my current boyfriend is going into the forces. One of my friends got a BTEC and works in childcare; one of my friends has a child of her own. I am hoping to go to a uni that accepts 120 UCAS points and isn’t too far from home in September. We’re all perfectly happy with how our lives turned out because, at 20, the variation opens back up again.

Life Is Like Being Fed Through A Funnel The Wrong Way

Turn your attention back to four year old me reading Biff and Chip books at Primary School. She and her classmates are about to be defined purely by a series of numbers and letters for the next twelve to fourteen years. There are five types of people she could be, an A, B, C, D or E, and throughout this time she is every one of them at some point. When she leaves for good, though, there are no more letters to prove achievements. The type of person she could be is not only no longer limited to five types, it doesn’t actually exist yet. There are roughly 8 billion types of people on this planet. No two are alike and nothing you learned in school will help you choose.

Basically, just be you. That is more than enough.


Amber x

When you were at primary school, you were really smart. When you were at secondary school you were quite smart. When you were at college you got by. Now you're an adult and feel surprisingly average. A letter to everyone who feels like they're getting an E at life.
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14 Replies to “To All The Overachievers Who Feel Like Underachievers”

  1. When I was a kid, I use to comoare myself to other kids. But now I grew up, My experience taught me how to stand on ny own witbout comparing myself. We have all deifferences in life. It may ve good or bad. Just be ourself and lrarn to respect others.


  2. Life is like being fed a funnel through the wrong way is such a deep concept. That’s what it is. My parents always praised me for being too smart when I was little. Then I went in to the field of owning my own business and because THEY didn’t see that as an accomplishment, I wasn’t labeled the smart one anymore.

    It’s all in the eye of its beholder, I suppose.


  3. I think this might be me! I am one of those who feels l have done enough, even with 4 college degrees. Dang, this might be the answer to most of my issues!


  4. I feel like I was the opposite. I struggled with things then in adult life I started to kick butt at things lol…. it’s funny how things work out


  5. I totally relate to this so much. Like you, i started off strong, reading from a very early age, came out with 5’s at Primary Level from then on it wasn’t as special anymore and harder to achieved. Options were definitely not really options, i had no love for art or technology but had to take them. But you are so right when you’re out of mandatory full time education it doesn’t matter anymore. Love your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ‘Life is like being fed a funnel through the wrong way” is such an accurate description. This has been a huge issue in my life personally and is still bothering me to some extent. But I think your point about there being various ways to end up in a life you love is very accurate and you definitely need to choose your own path that’s right for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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