Curse of the Overachiever


If you, like me, always want to be doing All Of The Things, then listen up.

When I was fairly little, I told someone that I was afraid of dying young because I had too many things to do, or that I would die without achieving anything that mattered to me. Maybe that was kind of morbid for an elementary school girl to be saying, but it’s true. It’s still true.

I think, for most people who feel this way, you have a sort of “Oh Crap” moment, when you decide you’re going to go for it and try to get the Millenium Falcon into hyperdive, so to speak. Ophira Eiseinberg explained this well in her book, describing how, after a horrible car accident, she suddenly became proactive.

Nobody’s going to come knocking on your door and bring you what you’d like. Well, aside from pineapple pizza, but you still have to order that. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I can blink and have pizza show up.

I've tried.

I’ve tried.

However, once realizing all that you want to do, and all that you have to do to get there, it’s likely you will not be the type of person who leaves their job at 5 PM, gets home, and then just relaxes until you fall asleep.

Even the New York Times did a piece this past December, profiling millennials and the fact that most of us don’t have just one job title. I definitely don’t see myself as having one job title. Most of my coworkers have jobs, freelance or part time, outside of our office, where they write, design, photograph, paint, archive, perform, etc.

A few years ago, I was working as a producer for a weekly children’s series, freelance writing and attending shows as a photographer, and performing in a band. I’d arranged to display some of my artwork in one of my favorite coffee shops after work, and the time had come for me to take the artwork down. I hurried over before they closed up, packed up the frames and wires, received some free and delicious baked goods that had not sold from the day (bonus!), and hobbled back to my bust stop with a heavy bag of frames, my work stuff, and a box of breakfast pastries under my arm.

It was a steamy day downtown, and the bus was not only packed, but stuck in horrible traffic. On top of everything else I was doing, I had told my sister I’d meet her at the cafe next to my apartment to review some music stuff before going home to make dinner. I was going to be late.

As the bus made its way to my neighborhood, I noticed my friend at the back of the bus. It was far too jam packed in there to try and say hello, so I just texted him to say, “Hey! We’re on the same bus! I’m going to meet Sarah. Want to join?”.

By the time we got off the bus, he told me he had to use the restroom. One of us suggested just stopping by my apartment, instead of walking another ten plus minutes to his place.

Then, we figured…well, the cafe has a bathroom! Problem solved.

I found my sister and sat down in a chair with all of my junk. My friend walked by me and mentioned something to me. I didn’t hear him, I was so frazzled at that point and it was loud in there. I figured he was just saying, “be right back, going to the bathroom.”

I ordered a drink. Sarah ordered a drink. We talked. He hadn’t come back.

Hey, hey, there. Didja fall in?

A barista hurried over to the counter, frantically waving about.

“Is there a doctor in here? There’s a young man in his twenties in the bathroom. I think he’s in cardiac arrest!”

Let me tell you (and if you know this feeling, I am so sorry), but if you think your friend is dying in the bathroom, it’s enough to put your body in panic attack mode. I didn’t know what to do.

Scared, I called my boyfriend. He was a certified Wilderness First Responder at the time, so my panic ridden mind thought he could at least help if we couldn’t get a doctor.*

Almost in tears, I told him that our friend was possibly having a heart attack or something in the cafe bathroom. What do I do while they call an ambulance?

“But…he’s here.”

Insert record scratch sound effect

Turns out, when he’d walked by us, he’d actually been saying, “yeah, I’m just going to your apartment and I’ll hang out with your boyfriend”, or something along those lines. He was not, in fact, dying in the bathroom.

Thankfully, a doctor from across the street came running in to help. Everyone else was asked to leave as the medics arrived. I went back to the cafe the next morning to see if everyone had been ok but, of course, they couldn’t tell me details due to privacy, which I understand. But whoever the young man was had been conscious when he was taken out of the cafe.

So, there’s one story when, in the midst of trying to do so much in one day, missing the fact that my friend had gone to my apartment caused me to think he was dying in a bathroom.

On another note, I give you my recent article for CollegeXpress.

*Since people have been concerned, please be assured that 911 was called immediately by the cafe staff, and patrons were then trying to find a doctor or someone certified to help in the meantime.


2 thoughts on “Curse of the Overachiever

  1. Oh, my goodness! What a day! I totally understand– though I don’t try to do quite as many things at once as you did.
    Glad your friend was OK and that the guy in the cafe was at least conscious. Next time (and we hope there is no next time), the barista, you, or anyone else on the scene should call 911 before doing anything else.

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