Zain K.

How to deal with the burden of not overachieving in life?

August 1, 2021

When I graduated, I did so at the top of my class. It was wonderful. I had made so many people proud. Mostly, my parents who continued recalling that moment for years (still do).

I had made my close friends proud too. They had always believed in my potential intelligence and seeing it materialize was something of value to them. It gave them happiness.

With this achievement, came an unsaid expectation- to continue achieving more.

It did take some effort on my part but mostly luck that I got multiple very good offers right after graduation. And so the trend of continuing to achieve more continued.

As time went on, I started to look out for further avenues to excel-in. I dipped hands in a few different things, after all isn’t being a multi-talented individual the ultimate aim? I saw the world was heading towards machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics so not surprisingly I enrolled and completed courses on them.

I saw someone was branding (read: popularizing) himself via a personal website. So, I developed and started one myself. I saw a woman reading and posting enormous amounts of books on LinkedIn using #abookaweekchallenge hashtag, so I got myself a kindle and adopted the habit.

I am not saying that I regret these past actions. No! On the contrary, I love how much I have gained and I intend to continue with them.

But I was becoming too-overwhelmed with the pressure of achieving more in life. I felt a lot of expectations were hanging on me and trying to fulfill them felt more of an obligation.

I was feeling the burden placed on me. The burden of trying to overachieve in life. It was until I came across this wonderful story that helped me to calm me down. I hope it has the same effect on you. It goes…

A woman was stranded in desert. She was now dying of thirst. She had spent the last countless hours in search for water but no luck. Finally, she gave up. Her dehydrated body could no longer support her weight and she fell on the heated sand. A moment of darkness. Then her eyes blinked and she saw the sun's rays reflection from a lake of water a few meters away. She was sure it was a mirage. But she took her chance. Got up with whatever little strength she had left and made her way towards it.

Upon reaching it, she bent down and it was indeed a real lake. She felt as happy as she had ever been in life. Then, in an instant, a thought crossed her mind and she felt miserable.

A traveler was passing by on his camel. He saw this woman bent down touching the lake but not drinking from it. He felt curious so he rode his camel closer to her and asked,
'Why are you not drinking?'
She replied, 'Even if I drink from this lake my entire life, I won't be able to finish it.'
The traveler smiled and said, 'You don't have to finish it. Just take a sip from it. See if it quenches your thirst. If you still feel thirsty, take another sip.'

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