The Crazy Competition We Call Life
I remember once that a girl in my class said “School is a competition”. She made it clear that we are there to compete with one another for the honors. Which is true in our case. In our country, kids are grouped based on their grades. Kids who are above average would be placed in section 1 and through my whole life, I’ve been put there.
I’ll admit that’s how I used to think too. I felt this urge that I have to compete. Sometimes parents make us compete with other children. It gives them pride when they know their children are a prodigy at something.
“You need to top the class and get the best grades”
“You need to be in top 10″
How competition shaped me as a person
My main motivation for studying is to be better than everyone else not because I actually need to learn. I used to have a curious mind and I want to learn about everything. I used to open books because I want to discover new things but since competition has been imprinted on my mind, what I only ever did was to open my book so I can memorize all the content to answer every single question on exams.
But after hearing the thoughts of this girl who said school is a competition, it made me wonder about my life, what I want and where I want to be. Is medal and honors really what we should want? Why do I need it? Because I need to make my parents proud? Because having those would be proof that I am smart?
I tried to strive hard to get into the top. Sometimes I made it, sometimes I don’t and whenever I don’t get there, I would loathe myself. I would blame myself for everything. It made me feel like am not good enough. It made me sad, it made me feel confused and it made me hate myself. It’s exhausting.
And what are these all for? For a silly little medal? Sure, it can be fun to hang them on the wall and show off your little achievements to any visitor who would come to your house. They will be like “Oh wow, your child is amazing!” and then you’ll get to witness the proud faces of your parents after hearing that compliment.
But what if I didn’t have them? Would my parents still be proud of me? What if I stopped having them? I already have a fair amount of it. But isn’t it enough? Why do I feel like I have to get more? That I have to get all? It’s becoming toxic that it is plaguing my mind.
How I stopped looking at life like it’s a contest
I took a deep breath and asked myself. Why do I have to compete? What if I didn’t win? What if someone else had it? Would it mean that I am not intelligent? That I don’t have any chances of getting into a good college and have a bright future? Is this really what life is all about? Competition?
Then I decided, I would study not for the silly medals and honors anymore but I would learn because I actually want to. I became more of a free spirit in school and people thought I was actually under a bad influence but no, I wasn’t. I started reading books about philosophy, I read books about the universe, I read classic literature, I read history and everything that I am actually genuinely interested in.
I found my passion for writing. Something that other adults thought was a waste of time. It even struck me when a teacher of mine said “writing is not going to save your grades” when one of my grades started slipping on this subject which I really find extremely difficult. I just didn’t make it to their standards because I belong to section 1 and I shouldn’t have this grade. This teacher would strictly implement the rule zero-perfect. If you make any mistake on the exam, even if it is just one, your score is zero.
But why blame my passions for writing when my grades are dropping? Why act as if it is the reason why I am bad at it? Didn’t it occur to them that there are different kinds of intelligence? I am not a jack-of-all-trades and like me, there are people who are not brilliant with every single thing that they do. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I’ve acknowledge it and I am doing my best to work in it.
Stop worrying about what others think of you
Of course there are people who are quite disappointed with the results when I suddenly stopped getting in to the honor. “What happened to her?” I am just putting myself out of the competition anymore. I told myself that I would not base my worth on the grades I get, the medals and certificates.
When you stop worrying so much about what other people think of you and you only worry about what you think of yourself, there you will realize that it’s okay if I am not the best among the rest but I am perfectly fine because I don’t need to be the best anymore. Because I am becoming the best version of myself.
Maybe competition is already embedded to us, to our DNA that we have to be the best in or order to survive. We are programmed to perceive scarcity and the best solution for that is to compete in order to get the most. That is how evolution work, didn’t it? Survival of the fittest. That’s why we humans became the most dominant species here in Earth. Ever since then, everything else became a contest.
- We compete to get good grades in school
- We compete about getting into a good college
- We compete in college in order to get a good job.
- We compete with other people for a promotion in our jobs
- We compete about our love life
- We compete with others with material things such as houses, clothes, phones
- We even compete about our looks and sometimes we feel insecure about it
- In sports, winning is a big deal
- Politicians compete with one another in order to gain favor from the public and win
- Even in business, it is one of the greatest competitions existing in this world
It is inevitable to feel jealousy especially when we see others get the hold of what we want in our life. We are wishing we have that too. That’s why some of us would tend to get into the competition and be the best. But we need to realize that in life, there will always be someone richer than you, prettier than you or more skilled than you. But you know what? That’s okay.
What we need to do is to acknowledge it. Let’s just accept that fact and learn how to adjust in that situation. What are we even competing for? Is it worth it? Does the pleasure of being the best, being the richest person in your town or having the most expensive car makes us feel satisfied? Is winning Money, Power & Prestige what life your life is all about? Or is there something more?
Though competition can be seen as a good thing as well. Without it, we are going nowhere. We compete to challenge ourselves, to reach our potentials, to exceed our limits and expectations. Even within ourselves, we compete. We compete every single day to be a better person than we were yesterday in order for us to develop and grow.
A healthy competition is what we should have where we are motivated by our real goals and not because we want to be at the top of the pyramid and the rest are at the bottom. Not because of our ego and our pride. We must not let them get the best of ourselves. There is something more in life than just winning.
Maybe life is one big heck of a competition and that’s reality. All of us are in the range of being crazy competitive to being carefree with IDAF attitude. You just have to figure out where you would put yourself. Is having a lot of money the price of winning the competition of life? Being successful in your career? Or being simply happy in life? You decide.