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Achiever in Distress

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Q: My 17 yr old worries because her friends seem to not care about their classes or band. She’s extremely passionate about most things she’s involved in and she can’t accept that others are only there for a grade or because their parents made them enroll in a certain class. she can’t stand to be around anyone that is negative and she worries over other’s laxidaisical attitude. Is there a name for her worries or situation??? perhaps a syndrome? She is very competitive and hard on herself. She thinks if she doesn’t get chosen for something that she’s worked so hard for that she didn’t do her best and she just beats herself up. Help………..

Achiever in Distress

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You are a wise parent, indeed, to be concerned about your daughter. Many parents would miss the distress under all this driven achievement. No, this isn’t a syndrome. This is usually a self-esteem issue. Unless she is the best, your daughter doesn’t feel good enough. Her strategy for protecting herself is partly perfectionism for herself and partly superiority toward others who don’t operate as she does. This is not a good combination.

Yes, it takes a certain single-mindedness of purpose to excel. It’s wonderful to feel passionate about whatever work we choose. There’s nothing wrong in being competitive in a competitive world. But doing well does not have to be at the expense of relationships with others or at the expense of having some fun along the way.

Your daughter probably doesn’t think there is anything wrong with how she is approaching life. It works for her. But I’m concerned that she is an anxiety disorder waiting to happen. Ideally, she would try out some therapy to learn how to relax, to develop self-esteem that is based on other things besides being on top all the time, and to have a more generous point of view about other people’s choices about how to live. I hope you can persuade her that therapy is worth a try. She will have a happier time in college next year if she takes care of some of her issues now.

I wish you both well,
Dr. Marie

Achiever in Distress

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Achiever in Distress. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.