I’ve been doing some thinking about competition. Not the kind between teams in games, but the kind between people. The kind that I’m learning stems from comparison, and insecurity.
Funny enough, we (read: I) don’t tend to think of ourselves as insecure. It’s like admitting that we don’t like ourselves, or we don’t think we’re good enough. And that’s the opposite of how we like to present ourselves to others- as put together, talented, thoughtful, creative, or well-off. I think we are quite often trying to prove our worth on some level, both to others and to ourselves, whether we know it or not. It’s tough to really dig down when pricks of jealousy or comparison come up and ask ourselves why we’re having those feelings in the first place.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a jealous person. I have a small circle of friends, and I guard them closely. I don’t like “competition” from other people. I want to have something so special that I am irreplaceable. I want to be able to provide everything that person needs within our relationship. In my head, I know that is unhealthy, and impossible. No one can be all things to all people (or even to one person). The competition hits even closer to home when I see that the “competitor” (a.k.a. a super nice, regular person who has no idea they’re even in a competition) is so much like myself. Suddenly I’m not so special; in fact, I’m pretty normal and maybe even replaceable. Suddenly I feel the need to prove my worth.
Or do I? I’m finding that my personal insecurities stem from the fact that I am still very much struggling to figure out who I am and where my place is in this world. I don’t feel that I have anything special to give, because I haven’t found an outlet for my talents and interests. I don’t feel that I am contributing to any greater good. I don’t have anything that I represent. So when I see others who have passions and interests they are pursuing wholeheartedly, I am envious that they know the direction they are heading in, whereas I feel like I’m lost in a very foggy wood without a lantern. Where did everyone get those flashlights? And are there any more paths left for me to find? So, every time I see someone shining brightly on their path, a little barb pricks me right above my heart. I’ll notice it, so I’ll try to pick it out, bandage up the little wound and move on. But then I catch a glimpse of their damn light-filled path again! Stop shining your light all over me, you! I don’t even have a lantern, that’s just rude. And the barb comes in again, in the same spot, this time a little deeper. And so it goes- me seeing their light, feeling the barb, picking it out and washing the wound, seeing their light, feeling the barb, picking it out and washing the wound…
So, I’m trying to remind myself that there is enough space in the world, and in the hearts of my friends, for things and people besides me. There are enough paths in that great wooded world for me to find mine too. Sometimes, more than one person can share a path! Imagine that! As my dearest friend consistently tells me (as I’m sure she sees these insecurities in me), “I’ve never known another you.” And that’s true of everyone. There will never be another you. Or her. Or him. But there can be a great, harmonious We. We can join our paths together. We can shine our lights on those who are still trying to find theirs. Those without one can (painfully and humbly) learn to accept light from those who have found it. And we can all remember that there is no need for competition, because there will never be another like us.