Life coaches often teach us that life isn’t a competition. This may be true, but I actually believe that life is in fact a competition to a certain extent. However, many of us are competing against the wrong people. Confused? Let us begin by defining the word “competition.”
What is competition?
The Oxford Dictionary defines competition as “the activity or condition of striving to gain to win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others”. The three key words are ACTIVITY, STRIVE and SUPERIORITY. In order for there to be a competition there needs to be an activity or an event, there needs to be the ability and willingness to strive (action) to and there needs to be an end goal of superiority. Now, how exactly is life a competition?
What makes life a competition?
Life is made up of countless activities and conditions which each have a goal in some way or another. Babies strive to stand on their two feet and walk; in school we strive to get promoted to the next grade; you make a sandwich (action) so that you can eat and satisfy your hunger (end goal), etc. All of life’s activities, big or small, natural or unnatural, have goals that we want to reach. Thus far we have established that life has activities and actions, but in order for it to be a competition, there needs to be someone or something to compare yourself to and the desire of superiority. So, who are you competing against?
The wrong person/people you are competing against
Whether you like it or not (and whether you admit it or not), you’re competing against somebody in one way or another. In life, apart from “actual” competitions, we often find ourselves unknowingly (and knowingly) competing against others. There are many obvious examples, but the bottom line is that humans are constantly comparing themselves to others and this comparison leads to the final piece of the competition puzzle: superiority. Nowadays, social media is an important contributor to unhealthy comparison. We are constantly exposed to people’s lives (whether the portrayal is honest or not) which leads us to look at our own lives and wonder why we don’t look a certain way, have certain things, accomplish certain goals, etc. Even the least envious people find themselves questioning their own lives in comparison to others. We find ourselves setting goals based on what others have achieved. This means that life is a competition, but we are often competing against the wrong people. Who should we be competing against?
Who you SHOULD be competing against?
For many years I struggled with low self-esteem which eventually led to envy. I have grown and changed considerably over the years, but it’s a process and I am not fully there yet. During this journey of self-actualization and esteem building I have realized that there is only one person I should be competing against: MYSELF. Yes, the only person (and the right person) you should be competing against is yourself!
ACTIVITY: You need to set your own goals without comparing yourself to anybody (this does not in any shape or form diminish the importance of role models).
STRIVE: You need to work hard in order to reach those goals.
SUPERIORITY: You need to look at your past achievements and successes and use them as benchmarks. If yesterday you crawled, work hard to learn how to walk not because John is walking, but because YOU want to walk. Once you have conquered walking, learn how to run not because Amani can run, but because you know how to walk and now YOU want to improve yourself. You want to be superior to the person you were yesterday. You want YOUR today to be better than YOUR yesterday, and you want YOUR tomorrow to be better than YOUR today.
YOUR life is a competition: it is a series of activities and events in which YOU strive to succeed and your only competition is YOURSELF.
Compete against yourself
By Stella Mpisi