Competition amongst friends can create interesting dynamics. For one it can motivate you to better yourself but in an another it can create a friendship based on jealousy and defeat.
The first option is what you’d ultimately want – a relationship where you each drive the other to their best, to lift each other up and to encourage, support and believe in you when you don’t. The latter can become a dangerous thing if you both buy into it.
I’ve never been an overly competitive person. I don’t have the motivation, drive or even the energy for it. I’m quite happy to do what I need to do and accept it whether its the best, worst or somewhere in between. Even as an adult I don’t need to have the most successful career, make the most money, own the biggest house or drive the fanciest car. I simply don’t compare myself to other people to the extent that I feel jealousy or hatred towards someone else.
But it can be difficult if there is someone in your life who wants to compete with you at any cost.
A few years ago there was someone in my life who for some reason fixated on me. She wanted to make sure everything in her life was better than mine. She wanted a better relationship, better clothes, better make up, better looks, better job etc. It took me a really long time to realise we were playing a game – only I didn’t know. But what killed this girl was that I was winning at a game I barely knew I was playing.
Whilst she spent all her time talking about the fabulous dinners and holidays she and her partner were taking, she hated the fact that my partner and I had an honest, trusting relationship. Whilst she went on about her fabulous clothes and how much money her boyfriend made, she hated the fact that my partner and I bought a house. Whilst she went on about how the house she bought was in a better area than mine, she hated the fact that my partner and I got engaged. She put me down as often as possible but she knew that if our mutual friends had to choose, they would choose to hang out with me over her. She wanted all these things but she was so focused on being better than me and those around her that she forgot to focus on the things that really mattered to her. And whilst it looked like her life was perfect on paper, she eventually lost it all because she wasn’t happy. This is the kind of competition that is ugly. It brings out the worst in you and it’s hard to snap out of. I’ll admit that occasionally I was petty and played this game of hers but ultimately it made me really sad for her. And I really didn’t like who it made me as a person. Despite barely dipping my foot in, I became mean and judgement for no reason other than for my own amusement. It didn’t take my fiance long to tell me I was being a shit person and to grow up and that quickly put an end to my active involvement.
What I like is the healthy competition where you want to better yourself. Where you see a photo of your friend hiking some fabulous trail and you think ”you know, I want to do that!” Where your friend gets an amazing career opportunity and you are genuinely happy for them. Where you can talk about your achievements and not downplay them because you know that no matter how shit your friend’s life is at the moment, they will want to hear every detail and encourage you to push even further. This is the competition I want and like. The one that isn’t about the material aspects and ones that push you to grow as a person and to be the best you can be. These are the people to surround yourself with because as adults, we are no longer bound by having to ‘play nice’with everyone we meet. Sure be civil and polite but if you don’t like someone there is nothing stopping you from cutting communication.