Over achievers

Tracey Montague

Tracey Montague | March 17, 2024

Over achievers

Your own private sweatshop.

Over achievers rarely herald from untroubled upbringings.

Being born to a mother with low confidence in her own abilities wouldn’t have been so bad, had she managed an ounce of confidence in her own children.

Such is life. The poor woman was bullied by her father. He, in turn, had been emotionally wrecked by the Nazis. My sister and I were the flotsam on their shore.

Not that a lack of parental chutzpah is necessarily a bad thing. My best friend assures me that kids with difficult upbringings are more interesting, more creative. Maybe we are.

I used to assume my passion for writing was based on, (i) a boundless imagination and, (ii) a natural propensity for making shit up. I now realise that writing fiction began as my way of helping that belittled girl hidden inside me. Making her feel whole. And that all my ‘over achievements’ (gaining three degrees and a black belt in martial arts; holding down three jobs while I bought up two children; becoming a midwife at forty-two; learning to write well, to name a few) were similarly motivated.

But here I am, banging on about the fact that my life got me where I was going. Doesn’t everyone’s? What’s so special about mine?

Nothing. Everything. Both. Depends on your perspective.

Yes, we’re scurrying ants, overcrowding our world. Arrogant about our place in the universe. But we’re also giants who can think outside our own present, our own planet, our own realities.

Somewhere in all that, I’m trying to fill the boots of a grown woman using black squiggles on a page. It isn’t the greatest thing anyone has ever done. It doesn’t trump motherhood or the love I have for those closest to me. But.

It fills my heart and mind. Whilst doing this strange and wonderous activity, not only do my troubles diminish. I truly love it. I take more pleasure in it than a million rooms filled with gold could ever afford me.

May you find that thing that makes you you. That thing you’ve been striving towards all your life (knowingly or not). And a word to the wise: when you find it. Don’t let go.

Grow it. Nurture it. Share it.

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