The obsession with competing2/18/2014
I recently listened to Tiny Fey reading Bossypants on audiobook which is really awesome. Anyway, I got to a chapter where she discusses the 'myth of not enough'. She says her career advice to women is, "People are going to try to trick you, to make you feel that you are in competition with one another. Don't be fooled, you're in competition with everyone". Gender-based competition might seem completely logical at first so we've applied it to everything. Who's earning the most money? Who's got the hottest body? Who's going on the best vacations? Who got engaged first? Whose baby is gifted? Just imagine adding men into the mix. The idea of some guy loving his awesome job and genius baby doesn't spur up jealousy within me. I just think, wow that's great Joe, now you can buy us a round of drinks and tell us all about it...maybe leave the baby at home though. Why can't we feel the same way about women? Is it because we think her engagement ring is going to outshine ours? Is her hot body going to make us reconsider a donut? Lol nice try but you'll have to rip these carbs from my cold, dead hands.
Why don't we put men on the same level that we put other women? I mean, the only competition heterosexual males won't partake in is trying to score a great boyfriend so why discount them? You may say that women care about different things but are those things really that important if only half of the population is trying to attain them? Sure there are some industries rife with women, fashion being a prime example, but work is work. Last month I styled a shoot with a straight guy so honestly, it's not like one field is completely barren. There are male millionaires who've made bank from female industries by selling us creams to shrink our pores so we can say, what? Hey bitch, my pores are invisible, eat your heart out cool girl from high school!
Despite my rant on equal opportunity competing, I actually don't like any of it, or rather what it has become: a passive-aggressive battleground. Regardless of gender, do you want to spend your life trying to prove your worth to people who just want to beat you? I've seen what competition has done to people and I know how it's made me feel so I'm not all that excited about it. I've heard arguments about competition being healthy and motivating but I don't buy it if opponents are prone to bitchfests, jealousy and schadenfreude. Have you ever been too scared to mention an accomplishment for fear that you'll sound like you're bragging? I think it's underpinned by the idea that an accomplishment puts a target on your back and that's because to some people your success erroneously computes as less success for them. Yep, good luck winning and having everyone be genuinely happy and supportive about it. I used to be one of the women who almost had it right, I'd be like a pinball bouncing between being happy for someone and feeling like I needed to catch up. The day that I decided to stop competing, my head wasn't clouded anymore and I got more shit done.
Now I don't agree with the school of thinking that everyone deserves a medal for being a special snowflake but I don't see competition as a healthy motivator for me, not in it's current state. I think motivation should come from within. Even channeling negative talk from others is a healthy motivator but it shouldn't be about proving someone wrong, it needs to be about proving yourself right. If you're focused on external motivators, you might just end up succeeding at something you didn't even care for because everyone else thought it was the bees knees. I used to do what everyone else was doing and when I got to the finish line I thought, shit. I NEVER wanted to do what everyone else was doing, where the hell did I go wrong?
So I just don't understand it anymore. First of all, we all want different things and second of all, it just reminds me of soccer. Sure, some team wins the Champions League this year and then next year they don't...what the hell is all the fuss about when it's a lifetime of trading places? I feel like, the only people who thrive on competition have this persistent idea that they're usually going to win and when I say thrive, I mean THRIVE like the girl in Super Fun Night who crashes Kim's karaoke party. That kind of attitude strikes me as wanting to take something so someone else can't have it, and that's a toxic and ultimately unfulfilling way to live.
If everyone gets knocked off the throne, we shouldn't have an issue letting people enjoy their moment and we shouldn't be scared to be happy for ourselves. I cannot tell you the amount of awesome things I've never whispered a word about because I thought I'd get some trivializing response that would just make me feel like an idiot. As long as we don't frantically scramble to step over people to win, I suppose competing is just the way of the world. Most times though, I just feel like everyone is so swept up in the game that they forget to see their own prize, just sitting there, waiting patiently for them to come and get it.