On being competitive
January 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
I pressed play on this song and started writing.
I’ve been listening to this song for some 7 years now. It came my way as a recommendation from a dear friend, who to this day still refers me to it. Wear sunscreen is the kind of song you listen to during important moments, when you feel down or overjoyed, when nothing or everything makes sense. But one line in particular always spoke to me.
‘Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, but in the end it’s only with yourself.’
If you asked me to introduce myself using three words, one of them would definitely be ‘competitive’. I grew up thinking competition was in my blood and it most definitely propelled me towards where I am today. To win at something, you must work hard, have a strategy behind everything you do, be resilient in front of challenges and have lots of grit – I could have stamped this phrase on my forehead I believed so much in it.
But at some point during the game, reality starts to bite. Envy might stinge you and your ego will get bruised as a result. Always being in competition is exhausting. Ironically, wanting to be the best at everything, all the time, against everyone is a losing game. I’m not even saying you should choose your battles carefully (although you should), what I’m saying is that in fact, we are always only competing against ourselves.
Here’s why: most of the time you will always be ahead of someone and behind someone. Competition is always relative. You are never THE champion, because while you’re busy being splashed with champagne, another better champion is winning you by a split second. In other words, being the best at something is relative. It’s devoid of meaning and very much attached to the matters of the ego.
When you detach yourself from the idea of being the smartest, the most beautiful, having the leanest body and the best taste in fashion, the most money and best math skills… all of it becomes a good joke. But suffering because you are not the smartest, most beautiful etc. – this suffering also disappears the moment you let go. All is left is a blank page where you can write your own version of history.
So let’s stop looking at what other people do and craft our own slope. And also? in reality no one cares what you do, everyone is concerned about themselves anyway, so don’t worry about coming across as the funniest, brightest, sexiest person in the room because no one really cares about you – all people think about is how THEY come across.
In the end, it’s not you vs. society, it’s you vs. you – and I will talk about this beautiful game some other day.