20 May Competition is a Scam
We come into this world alone, and alone we go out. This truth is something that sits at the core of our being. It is survival of the fittest, after all, that causes us to get lost amidst the “dog-eat-dog” mentally of our world. We think that we constantly have to be competing with each other for more access to resources, education, or finances. We find ourselves in speed races on the freeway, desperately trying to pass the first-generation immigrant driving an olive green minivan so we can get to our business meetings a whopping 5 seconds early, in which the topic of conversation is how to market a product more competitively than another rival company. We send our children to the top schools and do our best to provide them with above-average preparatory services so they can get better test scores than their best friend and hopefully get a spot at a highly revered University. From then they will spend their college years continuing to compete with one another for professor recommendations and better scores on even more tests, so they can land higher-paying jobs and ultimately have “better” lives than those around them. We feed each generation of new Americans a belief system that they must be greater than their peers. We tell them to be the best they can be and if they aren’t up to par in the categories we deem important (science, math, standardized testing) we worry and fear that they are somehow going to end up homeless because they won’t have the advantage of going to Yale over Oregon State. Let’s all take a breather here. You don’t have to compete with anybody.
The competitive nature of our culture is driving us all head first into the ground. The more and more we look around at our peers and use their success/failures to put some sort of measurement or gage on our own, we are taking away from the beauty that makes us all different. Society wouldn’t function if we all worked towards the same goals and dreams as one another, as if there is a finite amount of success only tangible to those who are willing to step on other people and screw over friends along their lonely ride to the top. You do remember that you are only guaranteed this life, right? More specifically, you are only guaranteed this moment. In this moment, why would you want to spend your time judging yourself based off another person’s life when you could be looking inward and discovering what you truly want for yourself? Are you pursuing goals that resonate with your own true desires or are you following the crowd and living a life set-up for you by greedy marketers that just want your money?
I was fortunate enough to receive a quality primary and secondary education in the private-school system, wherein everything was a competition. All the sports teams were subject to cuts, AP classes were limited to those who passed certain tests, and even charity trips chose their participants based off an extensive application process. I’m all for progress and the sharpening of young minds today, but how is this competitive spirit in school systems translating in to our every day lives? It undoubtedly contributes to the wealth gap and the inevitable differences of the “haves” and the “have-nots,” but has anybody else noticed how it gives certain people a false sense of entitlement? Do not confuse this observation of entitlement with confidence or pride. It is good to be proud of your accomplishments. It is good to work hard for something and reap the benefits of your hard work. But, when you start to look down upon others for not sharing the same certifications of completion as you, we run into the problem of you becoming a total asshole.
Some of the most successful people in our modern world (Brangelina, Oprah, Ellen Jim Carey to name a few) remain successful because their accomplishments come from a place of giving. Let’s note here that none of the aforementioned people have a college degree. They give away their money to charities that need it most. Divergent star Shailene Woodley can fit all of her belongings in one suitcase. She has commented on George Clooney’s disposition towards every person he meets. Woodley says he treats everybody with the same amount of respect he would a global world leader. That’s because none of us is better than another, and the amount of time you spend in a competition with each other is just time wasted while big companies and corporations laugh at how distracted you are from their selfish endeavors. While you funnel all of your resources into being better or skinnier or richer, the more money they take from you and the less happy you become. Social media only further encourages this paradigm. Your Google and Bing searches become advertisements for things to buy on your Facebook News Feed, as you scroll through pictures of what all your friends are doing and your insecurities of not being as good as they are continue to be fed. Without a cognitive awareness of this social media marketing, you start online shopping for new clothes or better muscle supplements or any of the other preposterous that claim to ease your troubled sense of worthlessness to keep you distracted from the bigger picture.
Pay attention to how you talk to yourself and ask yourself why you are chasing the goals or accomplishments in your path. Did you seek out those desires or were they put in front of you, like a mouse toy before a kitten, by corporations and monopolies that earn all of their income based on your insecurities? The overpriced schools that guarantee you better resume competitiveness or the beauty product that insures you’ll have better skin than somebody else competing for your future husband/wife is nothing more than a leech seeking to suck you dry of your money and self-worth. Look at your life and ask yourself what really matters. Everything you own, your house, your car, your phone, your clothes, can all be wiped away by an angry planet in the blink of an eye. And, if you haven’t noticed, the planet seems to be getting increasingly agitated as our gluttonous need for enhanced lifestyles destroys the very ozone layer keeping us from all burning to death. When all is said and done, all you have to fall back on is your character. You are the only one that has to live with your decisions. If you live in pursuit of excess and forget to be kind to your fellow man, that is your own matter with which you should probably make peace. The choice is yours if you want to be remembered as a competitive asshole or as a gracious friend.