- Julie Galloway, LPC-S- RPT
The Overachievers and Award Season
It’s award season! Awesome, right? No…not really. May means most gifted and over achieving families are busy attending award ceremonies, recitals and graduations.
This is the time of the year when I see my clients struggle with anxiety driven behaviors that have taken the lead over joy and excitement. That doesn't sound right, does it? Why work so hard?
One of the biggest symptoms during this time of year is insomnia. Waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering if you will be recognized for your efforts or will your performance be good enough. The stakes are high in the over achievers’ worlds. Being good enough…just isn’t cutting it.
Other symptoms during this time might be:
· panic attacks or related disorders
· disturbed appetite or an increased appetite
· social struggles
· anger and irritability
What can you do to calm down nerves the day of the event?
· Arrive early. Make the time to find a seat and look around to create a sense of peace.
· Name the nerve. When we name it, it loses power.
· Be kind and show grace to yourself and to those around you. Connecting with others will help you recognize you are not the only one struggling.
Victory verse Defeat
Have you heard this?
“I can’t believe she got that award…what has she done?” “Why did they pick me, I’m not really that good?”
This is also when we become aware of the importance of how the outcome has impacted self-worth and self-esteem.
Losing can set off feelings of failure and a lack of self-worth or even a sense of entitlement. This paired with negative self-talk creates a loss of pride on the accomplishments that were earned from a whole year of work. The joy from the processes of learning and growing is completely lost. It’s the attachment we have to winning and losing and the importance we place on it. It’s really an ego issue…
Winning has its own set of feelings, too. Survivor’s guilt because other deserving people did not get something. It might be the deep-seated fear of fraud, from the imposter syndrome, lurking in those moments of negative self-talk that this will be the moment when they will finally be exposed.
The aftermath is tricky, too!
There is the adrenaline rush that comes from winning and preforming. Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a stress hormone. It can feel like anxiousness, nervousness, excitement right before the event which is the opposite of all of the months, weeks and days of extreme control and focus.
There is the crash that happens, too. It can feel like exhaustion and letdown. Some even start stressing over never being able to measure up again next year. How do they top it?
It’s important that we focus on our behavior and our character. Let’s look past the winning and losing and focus on how we enjoyed the processes. The process last longer. Celebrate the year, the friends we made, the laughter and the mistakes that gave us opportunities.
Be proud of your accomplishments...but be proud of the human you are becoming. One that is able to face difficulty with optimism.