It all started with being passionate with bookbinding. From there, it paved the way to where I am now—a writer.
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel trapped in a profession you love?
A profession you love so much until the love drowns you to the point of loathing it.
I love perfection and I embrace it. It proves my high standards of everything and I strive to get the desirable results, preventing potential losses after a tremendous effort. There’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. But overdoing it is.
That’s how I failed as an overachiever.
Who Is An Overachiever?
Wikipedia defines it as someone who has the capacity to perform better or to achieve more success than the average number of persons expected in her age or rank.
When you become an overachiever, there are 2 implications here. Obviously, the bad and the good.
One article published on LinkedIn mentioned that you possess the virtues of hard work, diligence, and ambition rather than working below standards (expectations from authority).
On the negative side, it also describes you as a person who is only motivated by ideals. It gets crazy when your obsession with perfection, which goes hand-in-hand.
Rather than being described as a high-performer, you’re not. It is because your focus isn’t on productivity alone. You want to please someone or a group of people you desired. Parents’ attention, for example.
INC described a high-performer as someone who grows in any field of the industry she’s in. Be it in school or in a workplace.
On the contrary, the overachiever doesn’t. As an overachiever, they rather focus on constant moving without reflecting and observing and look for opportunities to win, not to search for an optimal solution.
Underneath the surface, you tend to fill your head with self-doubt more than high-performers. Hence, overachiever might look great at a distance.
But when you get to have a closer look at yourself and reflecting your road of achieving so much in your life, you realize you didn’t feel any sense of achievement.
Not at all.
How I Failed As An Overachiever?
I don’t want to blame the parenting here. Yet, when I see my life in a bird’s eye view, it’s the set of patterns my parents taught me leading me to this kind of behavior. The only way I could please them is by showing them perfect scores.
At a very young age, I learned to strive harder than any kid does. Instead of playing around with others and improve my social life, I hid in the shelves of libraries and read more books.
I locked behind the doors, listening to their laughter as they play and enjoy other’s company, to study and study.
For the sake of perfect scores, I tried the best as I could. From Mathematics to English to Arts, I made sure I had straight As.
As far as I could remember, I only had A- rating as my lowest grades back then. In my eyes, showing them high scores is the way to get their attention and please them.
It doesn’t feel wrong at the time, as I continued to strive in high school and college. I graduated with flying colors, a bunch of awards from both academics and extracurricular activities. I collected gold and silver medals than toys.
Everything changed when I graduated from college.
Blank. As in completely blank.
I didn’t know what I should do because I feel like I finished with what I have to do. I finished the fast-paced school life with awards and great scores my parents want from me. It’s the time I have to move on to the next phase, adulthood.
My First Taste Of Failure: 50 Rejections
Stepping outside my comfort zone for 16 years terrified me. Even the idea of doing so shuddered me so much.
My batchmates felt excited with applying for jobs and started printing their resumes. I didn’t. While printing my resumes, there were 50 of them, deep down inside me tells me something isn’t right.
My gut was right. I got 50 rejections.
I applied for 50 schools, big and small institutions, and 50 of them rejected me. Nobody called me nor even asked me to visit their schools to answer their stupid question, “Why should I hire you?”
After overachieving for 16 years, I earned a job as a full-time teacher in a small school nearby. Guess what? He hired me out of pity, to test me, not because he believes my capacity as a teacher.
During the whole course of teaching, it’s exhausting to teach 8 subjects in 4 different classes in exchange for $100 per month salary. In the same year, I had to take 2 national examinations to prove my eligibility as a professional. I passed.
But I collapsed. I fell into an unconscious state for I don’t know how long.
It’s the turning point for me. I thought I had to change something because, from the very beginning, I knew something wasn’t right. This time, I had to listen to myself and started from scratch.
Second Taste Of Failure: Quitting Professional Work
I quit the profession I worked for years to work for my own. Honestly, I didn’t know what it was.
I have no single idea of what I wanted to do with my life apart from pleasing my parents. It’s frustrating because it took me years of unemployment before I found out my hidden gem.
However, the new journey certainly brought me painful consequences. Hearing negative criticisms from my parents, relatives, and friends were part of my day-to-day life.
They questioned my decision, forcing me to return teaching as if my collapse didn’t occur. On top of that, our financial capacity sunk.
Seeing my parents fighting over money, keeping secrets of the real status of their finances, hurt me. When my sister shared her interests and chose to turn them down because of the financial lack made me question if what I did was right.
“Did I make the right choice to change my career?”
In mid-2014 to 2017, depression kicked in and I felt lost.
During these times, I was thankful I was born with an INTJ personality to keep my mind logical as much as I could albeit the emotionally-draining episodes of my life.
Since I quit my teaching profession, many of those who knew me doubted my next move. Even my parents were against my decision. The persons I offered most of my goals doubted my choice.
Only my sister and my then-fiance-now-husband supported me all the way through.
How Did I Get Up From My Failure?
Remembering my squash story back in early 2000 was part of my driving force to make a painful but rightful step. What about it?
At 10, my father asked me to guard the last full-grown squash in front of our yard. To us, it’s the only source of food because we didn’t have anything to eat except that one. If someone steals it, we can’t eat that day.
While guarding it, I thought, “My cousins eats delicious meals than our family. At least a piece of hotdog would suffice this hunger.”
The lesson kept in my head, replaying over and over again until now. That inspired me to do everything I could to earn higher by doing what I love.
After I quit my teaching profession in early 2014, I thought of doing something online. That’s when I discovered online writing.
I read a countless number of articles telling me how to write until I landed to Lifehack as a contributor for free.
Third Step: Writing For Big Sites For ZERO Earnings
For the first time, I experienced writing to get published online with the supervision of an editor.
As soon as I saw my name online, I knew I did something right this time. Yet, that didn’t satisfy my parents at all. To them, my new endeavor doesn’t bring in money. I kept their criticism by heart and doubted.
My then-fiance-now-husband encouraged me to get back at it. He believed in me so much that I decided to get serious doing it.
I started writing more articles and published more of them on the site. A month after, I got hired to work as an online news writer earning around $76.
As soon as I got it, my parents asked me how I did. Although they saw the returns of my efforts, they remained doubtful because it’s not a professional work, which they expected me as an overachiever.
Second Step: Writing As Paid News Writer
I didn’t care and rather continued hunting for more online opportunities. They let me go after one month and another company hired me for the same job. This time I earned $250 per month. That’s more than 2x my salary as a full-time teacher.
After around 6 months, they let me go and another company hired me again for the same type of job.
This time, I earned around $350 per month. For 6 months, I left the job and started my own business to explore more of what I could do.
First Step: Selling Handmade Notebooks (Exploring Creative Skills)
Before I began writing online, I have been passionate with notebooks, diaries, and journals. They mean a lot because they’ve been my constant companion when life hit me hard.
A few months after I saw Sea Lemon’s bookbinding tutorial on YouTube, I decided to sell handmade notebooks.
I created my own line and sold more than 200 items and enjoyed the whole process of creative work and earned around $600 within a short span.
In mid-2017, I went on hiatus to carry on the tasks for our upcoming wedding. My then-fiance-now-husband traveled from his homeland Germany to the Philippines.
We met the first time and decided to get married. Later, he returned to his country to fix a lot of things needed upon my migration.
Depression kicked in again after losing my lifetime partner and becoming alone again.
With the help of my sister, I got back to what I had to do and returned selling handmade notebooks internationally.
I stopped for a while and wrote books. That’s when I discovered Dabble Writer, my favorite writing application.
How I Succeeded As An Underrated Writer?
When I discovered the power of writing, I decided to pursue this path. Despite what happened to me, I rather spend my time sharing my story and inspire others than to resent the past.
The first step was trying Dabble Writer, I finished 3 Wattpad novels in 1 year. Before I tried the writing app, I never thought I could achieve something like that.
Finishing a book seemed an impossible feat. Yet, I was able to do so. Not only that, it also paved the way to discover the power of writing and blogging it here.
And the rest is history.
Big Shift From Teacher To Writer
While writing my stories, a private company hired me to write business articles and earned $500 as a monthly income. Realizing my ups and downs in my writing journey, I thought of sharing that to new writers.
This is how I ended up creating an initiative, building this blog, for that matter. I wanted to tell you my story how I managed to shift my career from a professional teacher to a professional writer.
Of course, it won’t be an easy thing to do. But if I did it, you can do, too.
Everybody wanted an overachiever, believing this person can succeed by showing her straight As.
What they didn’t know is underneath her shell is an empty vessel, clueless of who she is and what she’s capable of than striving to please people.
What they didn’t know is behind her proud smiles are tears that couldn’t seem to stop from falling down her eyes.
She’s an empty shell.
She doesn’t know who she is apart from being an achiever.
That’s how I failed.
I failed from achieving so much, beyond others can. But then, I got up, and succeeded as an underrated writer.
I did that by sharing my writing experience and my undeniable story worth sharing to others. And by doing that, I felt happier and saw myself doing it in the next 20 years.
My experience drove me to create this site to teach the beginner writers how to write their stories using the knowledge I collected over the years.
It took me time to realize I am a writer and was born to write stories and inspiring posts for others to see and learn.
Conclusion – Be Firm To Your Goal, Be Flexible With Details.
I have to borrow Jeff Goins’s line when he said it during our first day of the 3-day Live Bootcamp yesterday. It was an awesome experience to get close with the author you looked up to.
Like he said, be open to life changes. You’ll never know what’s coming. But that doesn’t mean it wavers your goal, your vision.
For me, it doesn’t even make sense how making notebooks opened up my long forgotten dream. To become an author.
If you find yourself stuck in a life you didn’t want, then do an abrupt but thoughtful plan and fix the decision to leave the comfort zone and strive to achieve something you want to do.
It won’t be an easy process but it’s going to be worth an experience.
By writing this personal story about how I failed as an overachiever, got up, and succeeded as an underrated writer, I am hoping you learn the lessons to help you achieve your dreams.
Whatever they are, you’re free to dream. You’re free to choose whether you do something to attain it or not.
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If you have something in mind, feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comment section below. 🙂