Saturday, June 7, 2014

Healthy Competition: 3 Keys

There is something to be said about comparing yourself to others. In a healthy way, comparison can motivate you to try your hardest and give you inspiration to collaborate with others. However, if you go too far in comparing, then you can hurt yourself.

Here are a few ways that I find people on my campus compare against each other and ways he that  it  can be harmful. If you have ways of dealing with this sort of harm, please comment and share!


I think that a lot of people struggle with comparing themselves with others. For many of us, college is the first place where we have been surrounded by people who are of and above our own skill level. While this is a wonderful thing for building community and engaging in discussion, it can also be thought if you've built your identity around being 'the smartest person in the room.'

Such a shaking to the core of your identity is harmful. Defining yourself in terms of others limits with whom and how you interact. 

Know who you are! 

Regaining identity

The important thing is to remember who you are. While others may be more talented at some subject or or others may seem to be learning more quickly than you, all of that is irrelevant. That doesn't affect you, now you learn, or how quickly you learn. Please remember that you don't know everything about other students: some people have been studying where you haven't seen them. Most importantly: they don't affect your ability  to learn. Having a safe space to return to can help you retain your identity.

When you compete with others, you can gain experience and confidence in your skills because you have challenged yourself. 



Reading this book I realized that the culture I was in was competitive to an unhealthy degree. That's what I have struggled with; naming the problem gave me precision and validation. With grades and applications, it can often feel like the good grades of another student harm your chances at your dreams. While this doesn't involve the other person hurting you, the constant hashing of gpas and comparing of past internships can be a form of competitiveness. But I still find it to be hurtful. I don't find comparing sleep deprivation or hosage to be healthy for me. 
More so you never know what people are hiding. The students that seems to always have great grades may be hiding their poor ones. The well dressed party crew may well be taking out large student loans. Comparing your internal self with someone else's constructed self is a method to never measure up. 

The only rubric that matters is your own self,  your goals and desires. 

Know your limits

When others are comparing in this way, know that they are expressing concern for themselves. The mean one of two things:

1. Let me know you're struggling too. Let me know that it's not as bad as it sounds or feels.
2. Give me an opportunity to brag about what I've done. Give me a chance to show off my accomplishments. Give me a chance to prove my machismo.

Neither of these things are about you. You don't want to get caught up in that sort of attitude.

 Offer support by actually reassuring and acknowledging the situation.