Competitive much ? Oh well .. Tell me about it !
I was thought as a kid, and until the end of high school, that success in school is when I am the best compared to my classmates : So if I had a math exam and I get 18.5/20, my mother would ask me what was the highest grade, if it was 19/20, she would ask me where did I lose the 0.5 ? — I was pretty damn good at school, very active and opinionated, didn’t have much worry about what I was contributing with, I trusted how smart I am compared to my classroom. One of the success factors is that my parents were pushing me to be better, everytime. But that is a two sided coin, I wasn’t only striving to become better, but better than others.
When I joined University, I noticed a difference in my behaviour. I started becoming shy in class, not able to share much with new people I meet, I couldn’t speak in front of a crowd to answer a question on a topic I had an opinion on. I am the type that shares when I feel I will bring value to the table, the fact of not sharing meant I wasn’t confident in my value, I didn’t trust my abilities at all. I also wasn’t able to get along with people, I either found the conversations too dull or was afraid to say something and sound stupid. I saw people being sure of themselves, participating, leading projects and organisations, I saw in them what I knew myself to be .. I became sad, depressed, I was blaming myself for being average, not the brilliant kid anymore, I wasn’t feeling special anymore .. it was a hard hit to my ego. I started hating the successful ones, being jealous, and I couldn’t understand what the eff has happened to my brain and skills. Wherever I turn, I was one of many good people, not specifically in the top 3 best ones ..
It took me some time, some long conversations and good friends to figure out what was going on : I was in an environment where different people have different skills, where success is not only defined by the grade, but your talents, the activities you are enrolled in, how much you’re pursuing your goals, how social and talkative are you, .. it was all in all a lot of sets of skills I couldn’t master all to be able to be top #1 whenever I would compare myself to the others. I got overwhelmed with my incapacity to be the best. I was not only comparing myself to people my age, but also to those who have achieved what I wanted to achieve already, who are in a different page in their own personal book. Following this epiphany, I took a stand to not compare myself to my environment, but to set goals and strive to be better than I was yesterday, looking up to people who have achieved greatness and being inspired by genius minds. I thought it would be easy, oh hell no, it is a struggle everyday, until today. Changing a habit I have been raised on for years can’t be shifted easily, not even in a span of 5–6 years, I will insist on it : I still struggle to feel happy with myself and fall into the spiral of comparison with people around me. But in the past few months, I have been able to monitor it better than usual, and here is how :
- Read biographies or autobiographies of successful people : Reading bios gives me the full picture on how people went from zero to hero, and do not only praise the shifting second when they have achieved their goal(s). I read the struggles and failures, the pain of keeping up regardless of judgement, people or self sabotage. I also get to position myself in my own journey, where I was, where I am now and where I am coming from.
- Buddy mentor : A person who is in the same age range as me, who has also struggles they want to overcome, and goals to achieve, we keep each other accountable and follow up on different plans we put. My buddy mentor is a close friend, and we don’t do this as a structured program, but more like ‘I’m keeping an eye on you’ or ‘Remember the promise you made yourself ?’, this way, I move one step ahead at a time, don’t look at people who are in a different period in their path, and also put much more effort in figuring out what to do myself, so it brings me more self awareness and pushes me to seek personal growth.
- Exercising : I will never stress enough about the importance of exercising. Our modern society has linked exercising with losing weight, while it is as important as brushing teeth or taking a shower, the sooner you get this, the happier you’ll feel about yourserlf. Going to the gym has allowed me to focus on myself, how I do, how I train, how my muscles are sore after a strong workout, and how many meters more I can run everytime I go for a run. It is a personal challenge where it’s me and myself competing, which brings a sense of focus that is indeniably sharp, and self control allowing me to discard my surrounding and evaluate only my own achievements.
- Find the gig : Figuring out what I excel at without substantial effort has allowed me to channel my desire to succeed into a positive emotion. I am still competitive at heart, that emotion is what pushes me to strive for better everyday, so it’s a matter of putting it at the right place. For example, I enjoy cooking very much, mixing the spices and making a delish dish comes natural to me, so when the topic of food and recipes is brought up, I give good advice and share my tips, and when appreciated, it makes me feel useful and happy. Find. The. Gig.
These have been helping me so well to be a better version of myself. I don’t want to sound cheesy like : omg! this is the best day of my life, thank you mom and dad, but getting out of the negativity of comparing myself to people has brought me wonderful clarity and great positive energy. Try it out, find your gig, exercise, read some good books and focus on your goals, things will come to you faster than you’d expect : ) !