This is so relatable. I’m starting 10th grade after 2 months, having my finals right now. And so far I’ve gotten really less marks in EVERYTHING. 2 years ago I skipped 9 months of school due to my parents going on a long ‘‘vacation’’. I’ve been diagnosed with depression with a doctor there. But it all settled after I came back. You see, I was always a topper and an overachiever. I used to beat myself up if I got a grade less or two. I always expected full from myself. But now..It’s different. I’m just NEARLY passing all my tests,I’m disappointed in myself and so are my teachers. I constantly have a bad memory, I sleep a lot, and oh where do I start with procrastination. I’m worried if there’s something wrong with me, or I’m just a pathetic idiot; a born failure. Please advise me on how to sort my school-life together or if I’m doing something wrong.

A. I would like to begin my answer by stating unequivocally that you are not a “pathetic idiot” or “a born failure.” The fact that you think this way about yourself suggests that you hold yourself to unrealistically high standards. You probably would never speak that harshly about other people. Why are you so hard on yourself?

Overachievers are attempting to do more than they need to do or perhaps even more than is possible to do. It is important to correct this imbalance.

People who overachieve may be trying to compensate for something they think they are lacking. They are often motivated by the fear of not being “good enough.” They believe that working extra hard will ensure their success but it’s often wasted energy which can lead to exhaustion and unhappiness. You only need to do as much as you need to do — no more and no less.

Counseling will help you to achieve a more appropriate and healthier balance. You will learn to be more flexible and less ridged in your thinking, to be kinder to yourself, and to be less of a perfectionist.

Counseling is also important for you because it appears as though something has changed; you seem to be struggling more than usual. This warrants further investigation. Perhaps you are doing the right amount of work but it seems abnormal to you because you’re are used to overdoing it. A therapist will be able to assist you in making the necessary adjustments to live a less stressful and more joy-filled life. Thank you for your question. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle