Ever since I can remember, I have been a ‘6-type’ of person. In the dutch scholar system, a six is a very average grade, that is just about enough to pass. Sixes-people aren’t outstanding people. They settle for less or are kinda simple. They don’t excel in anything. They’re fine. Content. And probably lazy.
I thought I was lazy
And I always took pride in this identity. As a student, I was fine getting graded a six, because I did very little to pass my classes. I took pride in this six, because I hardly even worked for it and it still worked out. That must’ve meant I was kinda smart right?! I always started studying or working on assignments the night before the deadline. I didn’t even try to start before that moment. I agreed that I was lazy, and I didn’t mind it.
I even felt like people with higher grades were just wasting time. Why work for a nine, if you only need a six to pass? In the special occasion I got a higher grade, I even sighed and said: I worked too hard again. I wanted time for myself, so bothered as little as possible for schoolwork and just made sprints out of my deadlines.
So I took a test
But when I started by fulltime job, I was offered a workshop on changing habits. I wanted to change my lazy procrastination habits and explained the situation to my coach. He asked me if I had ever been tested for performance anxiety. ‘Of course not!’ I replied. I was the opposite of that! I was lazy, cared more for my free time and hobbies than for achieving things and being successful.
Yet he insisted and asked me to take a perfectionism-test. This test didn’t ask me to explain my habits and actions, but analysed my habits and actions to see which fears and cravings were beneath them. The result? I am a hardcore perfectionist. I crave achievement and success. Failure and being average terrifies me. So why did I choose for these things on purpose for so long?
How I covered my fears
Turns out, I tried to cover the fear of being a failure or being average, by purposely showing that behaviour. As long as I didn’t try hard to reach my goals, I didn’t have to conclude that I was failing if I didn’t reach them. If I failed, or performed just average, it wasn’t too hard for me because I never really tried anyway. Moreover, I was applauding myself for not trying and still being somewhat successful!
Of course I wanted the high grades, but I never dared to see what happened if I actually studied for a 10. Being a smart girl has always been my identity, so what would happen if I studied for a 10, but still only got a 7 or 8? I much rather was the girl who was smart for not studying and still getting that 6.
I soon realised that this underachieving was applicable to many more situations in my life. I never set goals for myself or shared them with others, out of fear for not reaching them and having to conclude that I’m a failure. And because I never really tried the hard stuff, I didn’t gain any self-confidence on these matters either. Because if you don’t try, sure you cannot fail – but you cannot succeed either. And you never prove your insecurities wrong.
I learned to try
But I knew that that was no way to live. Deep down, I am not that lazy or average girl, and more important: I do have goals and dreams! So I took one year to actually try for what I wanted. I promised myself to actually write down work for my goals, and also share them with the world.
Within 5 months, I had reached all of the goals I had set for the year. I was flabbergasted, but also really thankful to hear a new voice that was now clear in my head, saying: you knew you could do this all along. You were just too scared.
I remember the moment I was going for my first try at my drivers license. I said to my friend that I was really afraid to fail. She understood, but also reality-checked me and said: Have you ever really tried at something you wanted and failed? And she was right. If I really want something, I always get it. And if I’m scared? I’ll do it scared.
Do it scared
Because being perfect is impossible. Everybody fails at times. And that can be scary, and it can hurt. But being lazy is not an option in this life that has so much to offer. ‘Life starts at the end of your comfort zone’ has been a motto since I took that test. And I challenge everyone reading this to please: face the fears that are holding you back from what you deserve.
Life is too short to be comfortable (or average).