The phone rings and it’s that friend that you know from back home who you only meet up with at the holidays. You set the day and time for your annual meet up and subsequently, take a deep breath as you settle in the parking lot. It will be different this time, you say. But it’s not, the lunch inevitably feels like all the rest with that person keeping score of what you’ve accomplished since you last met up.
Maybe it isn’t your friend. Maybe it’s your coworker, cousin, brother/sister, or that person in your life who is running circles around you in a race you didn’t even sign up for. They’re checking timelines, estimated salaries, bonuses, bylines, degrees and overall accomplishments just to know that they are one step ahead of you. But you were never in any sort of competition.
I felt this unnerving frustration last week thinking about all of the moments in my life where I was pitted up against someone. Why did I have to sit through those uncomfortable meeting? “It’s not that you need to be like her but they way she does this should be your example.” Then I thought, maybe everyone is this way? It wouldn’t be the first time that I had the unpopular opinion.
I brought this idea of competition to our little Unfiltrd community and you know what you said? 75% of you identify as competitive and who are you competing against? 100% said yourself. Although this was helpful, this didn’t solve my question of who these people are that MUST be one step ahead of the game. Why must we be better than others and not simply better versions of the people we were six months ago?
When we compete against ourselves, we win everything.
From Kindergarten to beyond, we’re pressured to be in a constant state of competition. Who can raise their hand first? Who can get the highest grades? The best job? Make the most money? Buy the biggest ring? Get married first? Have the best children? So on.
However, growing up playing sports, it was never about winning to me. Our team won a lot and lost a lot but I never had that Disney channel moment of being the kid who sulked after a big loss. (TBH, I’ve only ever loved sports for the comradery and snacks.) Every time I stepped out onto a field, into a gym, or sat down at the piano for a recital, I was competing with myself. I wanted to finally nail that technique, to come together as a team, to run faster, throw farther, and gain something in every match that I didn’t have before it started.
I stepped onto the field or into that gym as one person and I wanted to leave as another. Just as with life.
So tell me…
What role does competition play in your life? How do you make sense of your goals and timelines? What do you ultimately hope to gain from your competitive or not so competitive nature?