To a certain extent I have stopped being competitive. I know, there are good things that come with being one provided that a person keeps it healthy but I think I just stopped. It is one of the things I boxed up together with high school notes and several other trifle belongings when I was about to enter college. I was getting closer to the real world, and while a lot of people were saying that it was a battlefield out there, I knew that there was really no one else to battle with but myself. And so I went on and earned a degree as a different person.

My younger days were riddled with competitions. When I was a child, unlike most of my friends and relatives who lived the period carefree, I was that one who was always in control. Maybe I was insecure or had very low self-esteem that I constantly needed reassurance that I was the best. I was a laughing stock. And being a child, for me that quickly translated to being unwanted that I thought I had to compete for people’s love and attention. I remember I would always remind myself to do less of this and more of that to lessen sneers and be more welcome. I had more failures than successes but I didn’t stop. I got used to it. And that was how I got myself into the trap.

That being competitive got me my first few awards as a student and the appreciation that I wanted from my extended family. My parents couldn’t really brag anything about me except for the fact that my grades were never in any way disappointing. That went on for the rest of my primary education until they developed expectations that I just couldn’t fail. And I failed them not.

After my first year in secondary school our family moved to a place far from any of our relatives. Maybe that was when I began to see things differently. There were less prying, mocking eyes; I only got my parents to please. I started to think that I was fine and that I could let my guard down. But other challenges came in and I found out that I still could not opt out of the competition. The benefits of being on top became more of needs than merely prizes. I needed to be on top for tuition fee discounts, to keep family members motivated, for a scholarship, for a shot to a good college education. And I succeeded still.

It was not a bad experience in itself. I enjoyed the benefits, was praised, and was rather highly regarded. But I guess I just grew tired of it and realized that at the end of the day it’s not about how other people see me but how I see myself. I did it all for the benefits but I thought I can’t go on the same way for the rest of my life.

Just because I can answer a word problem faster than others doesn’t mean I have to. What am I trying to prove? Does it prove anything at all? Who’s  there to judge? Above all, what do I get from it? If I beat 254 delegates that only makes me the best out of 255 people and nothing more. Does being the best have to come with a certificate? In one’s career? Maybe. In life as whole? Ridiculous. If you think you have defeated 254 people but they didn’t have any intentions of competing with you, did you actually win?

The way I see it now, to be competitive is just to be eager with knowing how you compare with the others which doesn’t really do you any good, especially when you’re against average people.

I still participate in some forms of contest but I no longer compete. I no longer find satisfaction in knowing that I can produce better outputs than everyone else. What I do is set goals and challenge myself. Becoming the best for other people is a bonus, I got to be the best for myself first. -aB

Featured Image By: ~denisakc

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