Underachievement is the Way to happiness

Katherine - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humility

My dad is an engineer at Boeing, the company that makes most of the planes in America. My mom is an engineer at NASA, and I don’t really need to say anything more about NASA. My older sister is at another college learning how to be a biomedical engineer. My younger sister is not quite old enough to know what she wants to do, but her favorite subject is math. But I’m at college learning how to be a teacher. I’m a bit of an underachiever compared to the rest of my family, but that’s what I believe in.

I’m probably smart enough to be an engineer too, but I’m not going to for one and only reason: I hate math. And I don’t think that makes me lazy, it just means I believe in being happy, regardless of what I’m “supposed to” do. Being a teacher is what I’d like to do, but with the pay I’ll be getting, it’s not exactly what most people consider a successful life. Still, I think that being happy is better than living up to the expectations of others.

That’s all a friend of mine in high school could do for years. To keep from disappointing her engineer father, she worked so hard to get into the best possible college that she had no time to sleep, eat with her family, or do anything at all. She was literally suicidal. All because of the drive to achieve.

But I don’t think achievement is what life is all about. I used to worry about not disappointing my parents, until I realized something: I’m not much like them at all. And if we were so different, why was I trying to live up to them? So I came up with my own standards to live up to. Never work too hard, because the point of living isn’t so you can work, it’s the other way around. Do just as well as you need to to get what you want, because doing any more is actually pretty pointless.

I study enough to get decent grades, of course, but I don’t kill myself. If my sister asks if I want to try to beat her at Mario Kart, I go. Any project can wait long enough for me to bake my mom’s birthday cake. And if I get five points lower on my test because of it, so what? I love sugar, and I believe that enjoying life in every way you can is more important than working yourself to death just because I’m supposed to.

I could be a failure compared to the rest of my family. But to be honest, I’d rather have a tiny house than have to do calculus for the rest of my life. And that might be stupid, but what really matters is that I’m happy with my “failure”.

I believe in underachievement. Because if you achieve too much, you’re not really living.