Letter to an overachiever in her 20’s

Dear young overachiever,

I see you, I understand you,  I feel you: I’ve been you.

I know why you are working so hard,  why you obsess so much so far,  why you ignore your own heart, why you say yes to everything while keeping high guard,  why you put so much weight on your shoulders just to play the part.

You are afraid. You fear that you are not enough, that’s enough to know for now. But now, I need you to pay attention because, despite of your intention, doing everything is not your salvation.

It is a trap,  in fact.

We are taught that if we do something right people acknowledge us. If we do it again they may respect us, and if we keep on doing it,  they might even love us.

That is not the whole story. Life is not about glory, it is about living and feeling okay inside your own body.

How many hours did you work today? How many jokes have you told today? How many goals have you achieved today?

At night, when you go to sleep, do you feel satisfied or frustrated? One thing is for sure, success is overrated.

What they don’t tell you  is that life goes way beyond what you do. That if you work ten times harder you won’t do ten times more, you will just live a life of bore.

There’s a lot to it to chance, give me a chance to explain: not necessarily everything you’ll do will go as planned. Who am I kidding?  Almost everything goes unplanned.

The world is a random, stupid, wonderful place. Because you were born where and how you were, you have a privilege and a pace.

This is not a race. You better acknowledge it right from the start, so you don’t get to think you are better than anyone else. You are not a star.

You starve for creation, so stop trying to please and start paying attention. To what you really, honestly value. This is the key to escape from desperation.

Are you having fun? When was the last time you laughed ?with a stupid pun? Do you have a hobby? Or are you drowning in your cup of coffee?

Is there space for the nonsense,  the non-goal oriented,  the no financially promising? If not, then I hate to tell you that your life is nonsense.

Are you taking care of yourself? In the end, your cross is your own cross to bear, not from anyone else, and the other way around is fair. If you are scared then take a breath and swear that you will take care of yourself. Please, swear.

You need to be alive to experience being alive. You need to be present, with your full attention. Don’t be anxious, nothing is under control, and that’s the beauty of life.

It doesn’t solve anything to be an overachiever. It is easier to be a people-pleaser, I know, but you have got to say no. Or you will never know where your most beautiful life would ever go.

Do you get me? You might probably reject me, neglect me forget me  just don’t forget  that you are me.

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Carol Milters

Writer, facilitator and investigator of burnout, workaholism and the culture of mental health at work.

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