Overachievement Failure

blue ducky

An interesting phenomenon is happening – one, of which, I can be fairly certain I have never consciously witnessed in my life. Now, it is quite possible that I have been indirectly experiencing the same phenomenon with much more subtle results, but never this blatantly obvious and, actually, I am entertained.

Ya see, I am a Good Student. I am one of “those” people that you may have hated in school – the kind that loooooooves homework and writing papers and excelling in classes and being on the Presidential Honor Role. (To be clear, as a teenager this persona was masquerading as a “whining, tired, not-so-much-into-homework, but still wanting to have good grades and freaking out when that wasn’t achieved” sort of Good Student.) Because I am a Good Student, I will sometimes go the extra mile on an assignment, donning the cloak of Overachieving Good Student – the one you may have reeeeeeeally hated.

In my Multimedia Authoring class, I am having a grand ole time because this is the kind of class that you follow step by step instructions and you get a beautiful end result. However, if you miss even one letter in one word in one of the instructions, it’s an epic failure since it’s a class about writing code. In this class, I zoom through the assignments, loving the outcome and having super fun.


In this class, because I zoom through the assignments, usually succeeding on the first attempt, I have oodles of time left over, so I play.

This is where the overachievement failure is coming in. I am literally being punished for the extra work I am doing!

The first time I noticed it was on the very first assignment we turned in. We had to import files and create a gallery. We used Default Ducky – a yellow rubber ducky – for the assignment. While teaching us the process, the professor showed us how to manipulate the color of the ducky in PhotoShop. I got done early and decided to turn my yellow ducky to the Badass Blue Ducky you see above. I actually completed the assignment with Default Ducky then started over from scratch and redid it with Badass Blue Ducky and turned the second  completed assignment in.

I got docked 3 points because my duck was blue!

Then, Monday, we had a quiz on “movie-in-a-movie” techniques. This is layer upon layer of animations and is quite a process to get it completed. Here are the instructions:

Create an movie clip in a movie clip animation in Flash.

Have only movie clips in your library.
Go four deep with movie clip in movie clips.
Scene 1 will have one layer and one frame.

Create a blue rectangle vehicle with red triangle wheels.

When your done take a break and leave the room until everyone is finished.

I got done early and turned in my assignment so it was submitted on time. Because I had plenty of time, I opted to play around to see if I could make my “vehicle” more cool by adding exhaust. I created little puffs and animated them, trying to get the timing to look right. I never was satisfied with it so I only turned in the plain vehicle, but the playing around with the exhaust took me to the end of the testing period.

This morning, grades are in. And I laughed:

+1 Left room and waited until others were finished with quiz – Did not do; no point.

Never, in my life, have I been penalized by a teacher for doing more work. And, interestingly enough, this is the same teacher who, in the beginning of the semester, was triggering me really badly because he required me to ask my questions in specific ways and with specific wording and in a specific order before he would divulge any information and, rather than answering the question, he would go on a tirade that started with, “What you really want to ask is…” Sometimes, he would be nowhere near where I was when he’d do that and I’d end up feeling more frustrated than I started.

So, because of this interesting communication technique that he practices and the possibility of me being triggered, I stay really alert to what I am doing in there, what my intentions are and what I’m striving to learn. Most of the time, now, I don’t ask questions and, instead, learn through playing – which was often his suggestion anyway when I’d ask him a question… Well, I don’t know. Why don’t you try it out and see what happens?

Because of this desire to learn the software, as well as design the incredible things I am seeing in my head – and do it with the software – I am curious all the time about how the program works, what it can do and if I can get it to do what I want it to do. Hence the Badass Blue Ducky and the puffs of smoke. Both of those situations were me expanding upon what I already knew to learn more about what I didn’t know and I ended up “getting in trouble” for it.

Granted, I’m still at 104% in the class, overall, (I know! You’re laughing that I’m complaining about a docked grade when I’m still above an “A” grade.) buuuuut… it isn’t the docked grade I’m stuck on. What I’m noticing is my childhood pattern of “getting in trouble for something I did wrong without knowing that it was wrong in the first place.” And, really, this semester, I have had to release myself from driving myself into the ground to hit the Presidential Honor Role and, instead, have focused on learning the subjects, pushing myself to stretch beyond my comfort zone and continuing to fall in love with design, so my grades are no longer a hitch – as long as I don’t fail, which I can’t because you actually have to work hard to fail.

In the past, I would have gone off the deep end if I had had this same professor and the “do it my way” attitude that he has. And, really, I know that this is a great experiment for me about holding my head up no matter what my “boss” says about my work. It’s a practice in receiving feedback and rolling with the situation, choosing to adjust to fit in or not. It’s about doing my best and knowing that I’m doing the best with the information that I have. And, when new information is received, I can adjust again OR not.

In essence, this class IS just like life, soooooo… all bitching aside… I’m rolling with it, laughing A LOT, and only throwing a little tantrum here and there on the side. That is a vast improvement over my past experiences so YAY ME!


One response

  1. Pingback: Closing of the Year «

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