Yes it’s been a while, I do apologize for that. I could make excuses about grad school and mental health and the impending gorilla attack on mankind, but who has the time? Instead, let’s get back to it, shall we?
I would not characterize myself as a competitive person. I also would not characterize myself as a not competitive person. On a scale of “come on guys, aren’t we all just here to have fun?” to Abbi from Broad City requiring a full nelson to calm down, I’d say I’m a six.
No matter how obnoxious you are playing board games at Christmas with your family though*, I’m referring to a more dangerous type of competition. I’m talking about that guarded, self conscious, ‘am I the smartest/most qualified/prettiest/most liked person in the room’ competition that cuts down others in order to build you up and still leaves you feeling like a caged animal.
When I started my fellowship in January, the first step was to meet the highly qualified, highly terrifying group of other fellows. I went in smiling, but behind that smile was a pure, unfair hope to be the best, the obvious best, to demolish all tasks. Oh you want me to read and annotate this article? I will annotate the living hell out of it! I need to sign this form? My signature shall be the loopiest, most beautiful and professional that’s ever been seen! I shall introduce myself such as none has ever done! I shall crush these ice-breakers under an iron fist!
You get it.
It was unhealthy, it was stupid and it made me so nervous and on-guard that I don’t remember much about the meeting. The competition that I felt had absolutely nothing to do with anyone else in the room, it came from me; my insecurities about whether I belong in a prestigious program at an ivy. It came from my fear of what happens if I fail here. About what it means if I’m the lowest of the fellows.
And who, exactly, is deciding whether I belong or I fail or I suck?
That’s the truth of it. I’m in control. I’m the one manning the positive thoughts and negative thoughts lever. I’m the monster in the machine. So this monster is going to try to be more logical and love herself enough to crush the negative thoughts instead of the competition.
Because if you rearrange the letters in competition, you get “I comp one tit” and neither one of these is free…also, competition is stupid, love yourself, etc.
Best of luck!
*You are, they’ve all been meaning to talk to you about it