If you’re like me, you’ve probably found yourself at some point in your career on vacation with your work laptop open, overriding your “Out Of Office.” At that moment, you probably convinced yourself mid cocktail, that responding to that email or reviewing that document was essential. Atleast, that’s what I did. But now that I am on a career break, drinking bubbly on a weekday afternoon, I find myself wondering why was my work laptop in Tulum to begin with? Why did it even make it through customs? Am I an insecure overachiever?
Me? An Insecure Overachiever?
I first heard the term insecure overachiever in a conversation I was having with my boss in my performance appraisal. In that session, he shared with me that he intentionally hires people he identifies as insecure overachievers. This is because, these super capable, very ambitious individuals are for some reason motivated (or plagued), by this belief that they’re not good enough or aren’t doing enough.
As a result, they tend to over-deliver. They operate with a “healthy paranoia” (another term I picked up in the agency I worked in). This keeps them working as if someone is always just behind them ready to take them out. So, its not far off to imagine that they would respond to emails and work whilst on vacation…
So why was my laptop in Tulum?
Well, as an insecure overachiever I was nervous that if wasn’t accessible during the ten working days I had taken off, everyone from my clients, to my team, my direct reports and manager, would think that I was dropping the ball.
I was convinced that some heart surgery level type of situation would occur, and if I was not present to work on it, would result in people questioning whether or not I was doing enough to warrant being there. Which, by the way, was a ridiculous thing to even worry about. I worked at an advertising agency, and literally nothing in advertising will ever be of heart surgery level importance.
Well that got deep really quickly…Haha
Insecure overachievers need boundaries
I really wanted to blame my current burnout on how people didn’t respect my vacation days. I wanted to talk about how toxic it is that my boss purposefully hired people who he knew to be insecure overachievers. I was ready in this post to point fingers at everyone. And look, I think the system in someways plays a role as touched on in this audio clip on BBC, but then I realised, two glasses of bubbly in… that I am or was the problem. Why was my work laptop in Tulum with me? Why did I open my emails? Why did I reply to the emails?
So, if I want show up differently in my next role, I have to acknowledge that people ignored my “OOO” because I ignored my “OOO.”
But, also IT could do us insecure overachievers a solid, and lock us out of our emails when we go on vacation.
With love and admiration