In school, I did try to be one of the smartest kids in the class…but I wasn’t the smartest. I attempted to be pretty, and I was not the prettiest. We all remember those children in our high school classes that were dubbed the smartest, most good looking, or the most popular/athletic one. There were times when we found ourselves competing for the title. Maybe not!
Competition is all around us right? I believe we get set up to compete through society and social media in how they measure what success and beauty are. For some us, this can heighten our motivation. If you are a competitive person and you take it to the extreme, you can get burnt out or feel emotional stress trying to keep up. On the other hand, it can make people who don’t care to compete feel less than or defeated by life.
Competition is Good
Competing is not a bad thing unless it is so intense that you make it hard to actually reach your goal. Trying to get into the college of your choice, a certain job market, or on a certain sports team and things are fiercely competitive? When you have the attitude that you have to win at all cost, what happens when you lose out? When you don’t get it, how do you behave? Do you lack empathy or compassion? When I felt that I had to compete with others and was not successful, it was hard to deal with the disappointment and express some level of humility.
When you compete against other people, you are judging yourself according to their values and expectations. Even if you do win according to their standards, it was for them, not for you. Sometimes we lose, and may make things worse than before. It could be just enough to make us take a small step backward, or it could very well bounce you forward. If it was your race and this happens, don’t be hard on yourself. We are not racing against anyone but ourselves. Remember that and reduce some of the stresses of your life.
When Competing Goes Too Far
Now, where competition can go wrong is when we interfere with someone else’s success. Have you ever done something wrong to get ahead and it ruins someone else’s career? I haven’t personally, but I have seen it done.
When you are constantly comparing yourselves to someone else’s success, you are heightening your feelings of inadequacy. We also should not look for validation from others in order to feel successful. Your success should only be measured by you.
Started Them Young
Parents, teachers, and coaches can place unrealistic expectations on children. This can compound what is already going on inside them as adolescence. There are times when the talented one is singled out to bring attention to their abilities. It can also be diminishing to others, whether it is something done intentionally or not. Have you ever heard a parent say, “why can’t you be more like your brother?” Some of our parents did not realize the effect that had on us. The issue is that unattainable perfection can add another layer of discouragement and give someone a reason to be depressed.
Competition can be Healthy
The kind of competition that I am into is the healthy kind. I believe that it is healthy when it pushes me to accomplish one of my goals. When I think of healthy competition, I am thinking of all I will learn as I climb to achieve excellence and hit my personal best. If I am comparing myself to someone else, I am doomed to be upset. That competition that I have with the person that I was yesterday is the one that is going to get me where I need to be.
We do not need to compete with anyone else. How is it said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Why do we want that? No one is even running the same race that we are. We may have a similar journey as someone else, but their journey is their own. You have the pleasure of meeting someone along the way. They may run with us for a time, but there will be a time when someone’s direction changes. It can be temporary or permanent. So competing with someone who is running a different race doesn’t even make sense.
Getting Better Everyday
It is not productive for us to look around and wish that we had something another has or looked like someone else. I find myself doing that when I am feeling a little insecure. When I am operating in my confidence, I couldn’t care less what is happening with anyone else. What I am doing more and more is looking in the mirror and making plans to be better than the woman I see there. Better tomorrow. She is who I am competing with. We are all different and on our own journeys. Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, be determined to be better than yesterday’s you.
How? Take time to reflect on your abilities and insecurities. What can you do to manage them? Celebrate the things that you have improved on in your life and how far you have come. Don’t ever miss out on giving yourself a pat on the back or a glass of wine to celebrate your progress. Be sure to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Have faith that you can and will achieve those goals that you have set for yourself. Know that you do not always have to be the best. Do not beat yourself up for not “getting there” this time. Learn the lesson in the losses and bring them with you as you fail your way to success.
Compete With YOU!
The most important part when it comes to competing with yourself is setting your values and goals. You get to choose what fits you and set the bar where you see yourself winning. We will lose at some point, no doubt about that. Either way, we are competing against ourselves so we won’t be lured into someone else’s values and expectations. We get to move forward with more knowledge to help us win. No matter what someone else says, it is your race and all that matters is what matters to you.