Underachieving: An Underappreciated Art
March 25, 2014

It is becoming harder and harder to be a successful underachiever. Years ago, one could quietly underachieve from a windowless office, cluttered dorm room, or secluded cottage, and no one was the wiser. Now, when every Tom, Dick and Carrie is touting their accomplishments on the twitter and their facespaces, it’s rather difficult to revel in one’s underachieving without feeling like one is missing out. Today, people are praised for every little posting on social media, but how’s a ne’er-do-well to compete with the peddling of accomplishments by those nasty, scene-stealing overachievers?

How are those poor, sweet underachievers ever to be anything but ignored, sending status after status update without a Like or Favorite, when Tom keeps posting pictures of completed crossword puzzles? And not just from Mondays or fluff papers–serious Sunday stuff.

What is Nick to do when the very essence of underachieving requires not bragging about one’s actions to mere acquaintances, but the very essence of socializing now requires that he tweet his every move?

It is tragic that a new generation of underachievers may be embarrassed by their noble calling to sit back and relax. Shame on overachievers for not retweeting Mike’s message about beating his personal record on a Sporcle quiz. Why is he under-Internet-loved? He always likes Carl’s posts about working his way up the corporate ladder and keeping his nose to the grindstone. Why should Mike’s stagnancy yield any less social praise?

The most terrifying thing about this whole situation is that underachievers may start to feel sad, belittled, unloved. Those feelings–foreign to the underachievers of yore who always had time to throw impromptu parties and knew where the library stashed all the CliffsNotes–may cause our dear underachievers to do something unnatural. That is, it may cause them to try. Hard.

There is nothing worse than seeing a poor soul who is so perfectly suited to underachieve attempting to fake “achieving.” You know the scenario: the girl who pops in to the editors’ meeting to just say that, well, even though she’s never turned in anything before deadline and she may have gotten a little drunk at the Christmas party, she wants to really make a go of this whole “work” thing; the guy who shows up first to the dinner party and apologizes profusely for having forgotten to show up to the last one. These scenarios are incredibly awkward to witness, and they are just the tip of the iceberg.

So I ask you, please, oblige the underachievers. Do not ask them to do more than their nature dictates. We should be praising them, truly, for they leave room for overachievers to run free. They offer steppingstones from which overachievers can leap ahead. If it were not for underachievers, no one would realize the merits of true overachievers. So next time you run into your underachieving friend, say, “Great to see you!” And for the love of all things decent, or at least half-decent, like their status about giving up on the Times crossword puzzle. It’s the humane thing to do.

Underachiever’s Manifesto

Don’t try too hard; it’s unbecoming.

Try to avoid work at all costs. The following are a few exceptions where effort is probably harmless:

Setting the right ringtone.

Mixing a pitcher of cocktails (though not anything too fancy–bloody marys and g+t are safest).

Finding a good flight deal.

The following things you should never put work into:

Getting a promotion.

Finishing a crossword puzzle.

Learning a language.

Learning another language.

Figuring out the stock market (particularly the meaning behind p/e ratios).


The Higgs Weldon is a humor website with funny stories, articles, cartoons, and one liners. It was started by the Los Angeles stand-up comedy community, but takes submissions from everybody. Please read and enjoy our jokes!


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