A question to fellow overachievers out there:
I am struggling hard with not being the best at everything that I do, not being perfect et cetera. I have suffered from something that I think resembles GAD, but i've only gone to a CBT-therapist who doesn't want to give me a proper diagnose (or meds for that matter, which i wouldn't want to take anyway -- not that i don't recognize that they help a lot of people). One of my biggest problems, one of the many stemming from a generally bad self-confidence, is that i can never take pride in or be satisfied with what i do, and that i see other people's success as a threat to my own.
I guess that i am what a lot of people would call an over-achiever; for a few years now, my life has constantly been about succeeding, setting very high goals, putting more pressure on myself than what's necessary, never feeling that i am good enough no matter what i do, et cetera. To give you an idea of the general picture, i am professionally and academically very focused on a quite narrow area, which has pretty wide public interest though. I am in my _very_ young twenties, but i've already co-authored a book, been published in academic journals and other publications, worked as a temp writer for one of my home country's largest nation-wide newspapers (the youngest person ever to do so for that particular newspaper), et cetera. I would say -- and i've heard it from others -- that i'm probably the person in the country where i'm from with the largest pool of knowledge on my area of focus. I am not telling you this to brag or to make myself seem special in any way -- it's just that even though i've accomplished what objectively has to be regarded as "a lot", i can't take pride or feel calm about it. I constantly feel a pressure to achieve new things, to get more credit from people etc -- simply to be recognized. If i even hear about someone else working on things similar to what i do, i feel very threatened and get thrown into a circle of anxious thoughts.
Whatever i do is never enough. Even writing this message makes me feel slightly pressured because i know that a lot of those who will read it are native english speakers, and i'm not, but even though i constantly get compliments from native speakers on my english (many say they can't even tell i'm not american) i feel nervous and anxious from time to time when using the language in social or academic settings. About a year ago i literally moved to the other side of the planet from where i'm from to learn a language that has no linguistic resemblance to my native tongue, and even though i've reached a level where i can actually hang out with friends who are native speakers and comprehend MOST, or a lot, of what they say, i beat myself up when i make mistakes, whenever i can't understand them, whenever i watch a movie in the language in question and don't get the the plot perfectly, and so on. Whenever i meet other foreigners who are better than me at the language, for various reasons, i try to find explanations to why i'm not as good, find fault with their way of speaking and writing, even though sometimes i might be just as good as them without being able to admit it to myself because i just keep looking down on what i do and always feel the need to achieve more than what is reasonable.
the general problem is, i guess, that i never let myself live. every minute of everyday is about achieving more and every second spent not studying or reading books that will increase my knowledge makes me feel slightly guilty. the only time i let myself relaxe completely is when i'm hungover or too sick to do anything but rest.
i guess you might say i've become addicted to getting praised my the people around me. but even when i do, i can't take pride in it. i've gotten compliments about my work from people like cabinet members in the country where i'm from, but it's never enough, whenever i accomplish something -- even things that seemed impossible to me at first -- i immediately play it down to myself and make it seem like nothing. it's always about "if i only manage to do THIS or THAT i will finally be able to relax", but whenever i do, a new challenge rises up and makes me feel like i have to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.
my question to you is simply how you deal with the pressure of constantly achieving. i know that's not what life is about, and i often long back to the days when i could do what i do just out of pure curiosity. i don't even think that i would be doing anything differently even if i didn't feel the pressure, i still absolutely love what i do, but the pressure makes me look at my interest and area of work simply like something i need to do to prove my own value. i guess it's somewhat of an escape from other areas. i'm not exactly unpopular with girls, but i just feel very uncomfortable and don't know what to do in a lot of social situations, the pressure is with me there too. i want to be liked by everyone and it often makes me compromise my own wishes and my own behavior. in that sense, writing and publishing things is a much easier way of gaining appreciation because in those situations at least i know what i need to do to get appreciated.
if anyone has similar experiences or any advice in general, i'd really appreciate it. thanks for reading, this post turned out much longer than i thought it would, but whenever i open up everything just flows out of me.