Extra curriculum activities: Observations of a curious mind

**Let’s talk about extra curriculum activities. NO DISRESPECT INTENDED***

Having breakfast in Caluccios in an affluent area exposed my ears to the chitter-chatter of affluent Asian Mums. As I try not to listen in, I can hear them talking about their children and all the extra curriculum activities that will be taking place this term.

Wow-wee, it’s gonna be a busy one for little Hitesh…

I genuinely try to zone out, but can’t help but overhear. The conversations are so tempting and drizzled with a roster of activities, playdates, exams, grades, private tuition and challenges with getting children to focus and learn. Plus have fun.

It all seems to be a very delicate balancing act.

It’s interesting to hear the mums and I have to be careful not to stare.  My interest is much more than nosiness, this raw data helps me to understand the plight of SOME of the high achievers that have come to my therapy couch over the years.

People see your glory but dont know your story: extra curriculum activities

This quote comes to mind, to sum up what I have been privileged to intimately learn from high flying clients. I call it, The shadow side of ‘success’.

I think about young and old alike, who have all the whistles and bells, the car, holidays, double door house, 4x4s… who suffer to varying degrees with anxiety, depression, self-harm and despair. Thos that did all the extra curriculum activities perhaps. High achievement can, NOT ALWAYS be coupled with perfectionism.

Perfectionism often results in:

  1. Never feeling good enough
  2. A harsh inner critic
  3. Always feeling that activities have to be meaningful
  4. An insatiable appetite for outcomes, then straight off to the next epic milestone goal
  5. A relentless pursuit of goals, targets and societies milestones
  6. Pursuing ambitions that are superimposed by others, resulting in disconnection from authenticity
  7. Abandoning or non-recognition of one’s own dreams, hopes and aspirations
  8. Massive anti-climax when reaching hard-won goals, because the ambition to achieve was to win validation of others
  9. Disconnection from authenticity
  10. Having all the markers of ‘success’, yet feeling miserable inside
  11. Confusion as to why happiness feels so elusive
  12. Self-harm/self-sabotage/procrastination
  13. All or nothing mindset
  14. Outcome focused mindset, therefore never enjoying the process
  15. Needing permission to pursue interests for the sake of interest
  16. Difficulty understanding that not all activities have to outcome-based – it is ok to play the Banjo if you wanna play the Banjo
  17. Risk-taking / secret rebellion behaviour
  18. The list goes on…

It’s rather interesting where my mind goes as a sit with the ambition to zone out before I hit my office. Life never ceases to inspire me.

Not sure what else I want to say about this subject and extra curriculum activities. I hope it doesn’t cause offence. But I can’t help, but notice.

To ALL my high achievers, you amaze me!
Indulge in your greatness and give yourself permission to have idle time and FUN.

If you need help to understand your greatness, get in in touch.

Much love, your confidant and advocate,



Header image by Harsha Navalkar from Pixabay

Keeley Taverner is a psychotherapist who is a companion to people taking steps to understand and overcome life dilemmas. If you have been inspired by this article, please feel free to contact Keeley or arrange a no-fee fact-finding call.

If you would like to interview Keeley for your publications, please do get in touch. Keeley has recently been featured on the BBC, BBC 1Xtra, The Metro, Daily Express, Therapy Today, Brunel Link magazine and on Radio 1. Keeley is happy to be on radio, TV, podcasts and similar.


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