This I Believe

Adriana - Turlock, California
Entered on May 3, 2007

“Stop being such an overachiever.” This statement makes me cringe every time I hear it, just hoping it is not directed at me. “Are they talking to me? Am I an overachiever? What do they mean by that? Is it a bad thing? Is there such a thing as achieving too much?”

I am a competitive runner and soccer player. My bedroom displays many sports trophies, medals, and ribbons. I center in on a picture of me at a junior high track meet, stretching in my Dutcher Dolphins uniform, smiling. These were the days I ran around the track in P.E., always the first girl to finish her mile, and beat most of the boys on the way in too. The other girls would roll their eyes. “It’s only P.E.!” they would say. And then came the line—“Stop being such an overachiever!”

I always felt a bit embarrassed by this comment. I would look down at the ground, and feel my sweaty face turn red. But what was I supposed to do? Come in last? Slow down like them? Why would I do that? I loved to run!

Just recently, I suffered an injury that would forever shape my attitude and outlook about life. I got a stress fracture in my shin, a common injury for runners. I had minor injuries before, but I had never experienced an injury like this—I was taken out for my entire high school soccer season. I could not play, and I could not run. Not even jog. I was to walk only when I had to.

A huge part of me was missing. I was not as cheerful with my friends at school, or on Friday nights. I could not focus as well on my homework. And at home I cried all the time.

I prayed about healing faster. I capitalized on every form of exercise allowable—swimming, biking, weightlifting. I became my soccer team’s new cheerleader, and was louder than ever at our games. I visualized myself in my spot at center mid-field. I vowed to be back in no time, twice as strong, twice the player I was before. I now knew my passion, and knew what it was like to be without it.

How could I have ever let those girls get to me? How could I have for even one moment, been embarrassed about being seen running for fun or working on extra ball touches after soccer practice? As I think about this, I realize that I have answered my earlier question. These are not acts of an overachiever—but rather someone with passion. It is this overwhelming passion that motivates people, makes them willing to sacrifice. No matter the passion—writing, sailing, parenting, or a career—when someone finds what makes them come alive, it becomes an endeavor of personal love, and makes him or her a better, stronger, and complete person. We all must embrace our own passion to find our best selves. This I believe