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32 Signs You're an Overachiever Who Secretly Struggles With Anxiety

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When someone is an overachiever — meaning they outperform, go above and beyond and hold themselves to high standards — we often believe they have it all together. They couldn’t be struggling with anxiety, right? After all, success and struggle (we believe) are two contradictory concepts.

But success, determination or diligence doesn’t always mean someone’s life is flawless or easy. That’s why we asked our Mighty mental health community to share one thing they do because they’re an overachiever who secretly struggles with anxiety.

Just because someone seems like they’re striving, doesn’t mean they’re not struggling — and no matter what you’re perceived as, you deserve help and support.

Here is what our community had to say:

1. “I have waited until the absolute last minute because my anxiety makes me believe I won’t do it correctly. I have typed 20 page papers in one night simply because I was too anxious to start it. Then the constant check and recheck and printing out a paper two or three times because I keep finding mistakes. Or having a breakdown thinking: I want to drop out of school.” — Meagan R.

2. “I try to handle too much by myself. I won’t ask for help, even if I am feeling overwhelmed or am unsure of what I need to do.” — Charles H.

3. “I judge myself so harshly. I’m the hardest person on myself. I have panic attacks and then get more anxious because I feel guilty for not being able to control it.” — Liz S.

4. “I let the smallest negative thing bring me down. I’m a chef, so I could put out 100 parties perfectly, but if I mess one up I let it beat me up (more than it should).” — Alan B.

5. “I tend to ‘take charge’ of everything — whether I’m in a group or alone — because my anxiety makes me a perfectionist and an overachiever, so everything has to be perfect. But since I feel like I’m being too bossy or pushy, I will constantly apologize or end up just letting people change what I’ve already done. It’s really confusing, actually.” — Megan D.

6. “Usually end up walking away or quitting out of overwhelming frustration. There’s no grey area. It’s perfect or just forget it.” — Frank P.

7. “I’m constantly anxious about maintaining my high GPA, and when I do, I don’t feel any kind of achievement because anxiety convinces me that that’s ‘what you’re supposed to do anyway.’” — Ismail T.

8. “I am hypersensitive to anything that could be remotely construed as criticism, even if it is constructive and helpful. I have to remind myself that perfectionism is unrealistic and causes distress to only one person involved: myself.” — Christina A.

9. “Procrastinate. I’m a perfectionist and get anxiety about not getting things just right so [I] put off doing them.” — Nat B.

10. “I try to stay very organized. Key word: try. Organization calms the chaos before it can erupt!” — Cheryl W.

11. “I waste time making out lists of what I need to do instead of actually doing any work.” — Emily S.

12. “Self-loath. Also I overthink a minor error that occurred in any activity that I’m involved in even if no one noticed except for myself.” — John B.

13. “I am a people-pleasing perfectionist. My anxiety over other’s opinions of me forces my need to please others and take responsibility for their peace and happiness as well. It is an exhausting existence.” — Robyn J.

14. “I’ve been called a ‘know nothing know it all’ because I will explain why I know something but try and stop arguments when my arguments cause arguments.” — Alan P.

15. “I do everything myself. Even if I’m told to delegate tasks to other employees, I will still try to do it myself because my anxiety doesn’t let me think anyone else can do it the way it should be done. That being said, I then become over-encumbered with projects and the job I do isn’t that great, so I get in trouble — which is what I was trying to avoid in the first place. It’s a terrible circle.” — Lauren D.

16. “I try to balance way too much at once, working full-time and doing school online full-time with clinical. So I give the impression that everything is great and I bike because I am balancing everything well, when in reality it’s because I’m on the edge of a breakdown from it all (and I do love biking). I guess all in all it is a healthy problem to have.” — Amber R.

17. “I constantly worry that someone will judge me if things aren’t absolutely flawless and perfect. I tend to spend excessive amounts of time on every last detail to make sure I look amazing when it’s time for the end result, be it writing, events that I plan or anything else. I also have a few trusted people who I am probably entirely too reliant on: I run everything by them to make sure I’m right and that they agree.” — Megan G.

18. “I set goals that are way too high and break down when I don’t achieve them. I get frustrated and usually give up if I can’t get something right the first time. I’m a major procrastinator, but nothing I do is ever good enough. Worst of all, I committed to a career without considering other options or all of the factors that go with said career, and didn’t give up on it even though college was a horrible struggle because I thought people would look down on me for it. It turned out to not be right for me — I had a breakdown and have to start my whole life over again and have a ton of student loans to pay off for a degree I’m not going to use.” — Ronna H.

19. “I think I know the right answer when working on something difficult, or most times I know I know the right answer or solution; but I am so afraid to be wrong and mess something up that I have to get constant reassurance from others that I’m on the right track. My anxiety constantly convinces me I don’t know what I’m doing and that I’m bad at my job. I also downplay my skills and talents when someone praises them because I don’t think I’m very good at much, someone else is always better.” — Kat M.

20.Continues school because a bachelors degree isn’t enough. I plan ahead so much for things. I panic if I have school work due in a few days and haven’t completed it. So I tend to do things way before they’re due and turn them in early, otherwise I panic about it nonstop.” — Josie S.

21. “I constantly overthink every situation and everything I’ve ever said, even if it was something that happened a year ago. I have constant thoughts about random events, like if I do it a certain way and nothing bad happens, from then on I have to do it the same way so I get the same outcome. If I do it in the wrong order or I forget a step, I feel like something bad will happen.” — Heather W.

22. “I take on extra work and try to step in for my managers when a customer or employee needs to be dealt with. I’ll climb all over in dangerous areas to get items (Salvation Army thrift store).” — Jay B.

23. “I am hypervigillant and far too aware of my surroundings.” — Bridget D.

24. “If I don’t have the next move planned out in advance, I fall behind, causing more anxiety. I constantly wonder ‘What did I do wrong?’” — Mackenzie C.

25. “I’m a complete control freak when it comes to my life. I always overthink things and hate being limited to one yes or no option when making decisions. It makes me feel trapped.  I’m all about having alternatives for choices and back-up plans in case something falls through. You can probably imagine how well that works with having a chronic illness. It doesn’t.” —  Selena W.

26. “I do more than my fair share at work but soon realize that others have taken advantage of me.” — Destiny G.

27. “When I’m late, I go over how I will present the circumstances that made me late and then tear each of them apart with ways I could have prevented being late. This is to an absurd degree. For example, if I get a flat tire, I should have been regularly checking my tire pressure so that didn’t happen. I hold myself to standards I would never hold anyone else to.” — Katie F.

28. “I’ve been known to fake an injury if I knew I couldn’t complete the task to my satisfaction.” — Steph G.

29. “I own my own business and the fear of failure on top of my anxiety sends me into overdrive. Everything must be so — it affects my sleep, it affects my relationships because people don’t understand. I try to keep my wits, but damn it’s so hard.” — Ashley B.

30. “I pack too much information into everything so that all aspects are covered and no stone is left unturned.” — Codi W.

31. “I’m always second-guessing myself, and most of the time I was right to begin with, so my anxiety messes things up. I’m always thinking that I’m not smart enough, not pretty enough, my body is never good enough, and I’m just overall not good enough. It’s an every minute struggle, every single day.” — Amanda D.

32. “I try to work as quickly as possible on my projects at work because I feel like I will be more appreciated if I’m super efficient.” — Emily L.

Can you relate? If so, what advice would you give others who also struggle with this? Tell us in the comment below.

Originally published: May 31, 2018
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