I’ve called myself a recovering overachiever for years, but I never really thought about what I meant by that. So today’s essay explores the tough love of letting go of looking good on paper. Then I sit down with Lauren Bernadette Mangiaforte, a novelist in New York City. Lauren tells us about why she’s friends with all her exes, including the one that broke off their engagement via email, plus we go into detail about her heart condition, the writing process, and fighting Trump with poetry. We end the interview in a very Leslie Knope fashion, i.e. fangirling over Joe Biden. I know I say I love every interview, but I really, really love this one. I know you will too.
Have you joined Feminine February yet? This free online book club dives into the sexier side of self-love. Over the course of February, we’ll work from a book list to discuss and explore themes of femininity, sensuality, sexuality, and womanhood in a safe, supportive, healing space. Head to wildcozytruth.com/bookclub to learn more. Sign ups are open until March 8!
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Confessions of a Recovering Overachiever
I spent over 30 years trying to look good on paper, overscheduling myself to seem in demand, to be someone my parents could brag about, to put achievements in my back pocket to feel important. I was addicted to self-righteousness. My worth was determined by the length of my resume and my packed schedule.
Now I’m trying to untangle these ugly stories. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Your achievements won’t make you more happy or your parents more happy. Your achievements are a bandage for something that is deeply wounded or broken. What are you hiding from? How will you heal it?
Looking good on paper means nothing if you’re a shitty human being. Kindness, compassion, love, and gratitude can’t be measured by a GPA or an hourly rate.
Busy-ness is an excuse and everyone can see through it. You’re not in-demand and important. You’re just bad at prioritizing what matters.
You’re addicted to feeling superior. What’s that about? There are healthier ways to feed your self-esteem that are independent from other people.
No one is impressed. People care far less than you think they do. And bragging about your accomplishments doesn’t do you any favors. People just think you’re an arrogant asshole.
One more line on your CV won’t make you less lonely. One more award won’t make you a better person. One less committee position won’t push you over the ledge into the abyss of mediocrity.
( …What’s so bad about mediocrity anyways? As long as you’re happy, does it matter if you’re important?)
It’s okay to be proud of your achievements and it’s okay to have goals and strive for greatness. But you must do it for the right reasons. Do it for yourself, for your inner fulfillment, because it brings you joy. Pretend no one will ever find out that you achieved something — do you still want to do it?
You can have it all and still be unhappy. So tell yourself a new story. Shed the weight of others’ approval. Break the cycle of addiction to feeling impressive. You are enough, even without the accolades, awards, certifications, and calendar full of obligations. You matter no matter what.