Picture it, you are driving down a main street and some asshole zooms up behind you, revving their engine and all, passing you, only to beat you to the next red light. Good job buddy! You did it. YOU DROVE FASTER THAN ME. YOU’RE SO COOL (and clearly trying to overcompensate for something). The act of passing me, a speed-limit abiding citizen (at least most of the time), means one of three things.
- The driver is running late.
- The driver is in dire need of a trip to the restroom.
- The driver felt the need to be faster than me because everything is a competition, right?
Today, I’m focusing on the third reason (sorry to disappoint all who wanted me to address the second reason).
The idea that we put others down in order to feel better about ourselves is not new. We were told this as kids when bullies picked on us at school …or maybe you were the bully who hopefully received this lecture? I’d like to take this a step further and consider why we need to feel better about ourselves.
As a kid, I participated in competitive figure skating. It was a huge part of my childhood, and to be completely honest, I wasn’t all that talented. I had a lot of fun and made some good friends, but the competitions were brutal, and the politics involved with the sport were cruel. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. Whenever I bombed a competition, I would start talking sh*t about the other skaters behind their backs. Putting them down for petty things like “they had an ugly competition dress” or “their music was cheesy.” I remember one girl who had a dress that reminded me of a tree! But at the end of the day, she performed better than I did, and I had a hard time swallowing that truth. Why though? If I had accepted the fact that these skaters were better than me, I could have used it as motivation to work a little harder to improve.
Nowadays, I constantly hear people putting others down. Sure, I do it from time to time as well. We are all human. That said, I do notice when someone does it excessively. I see it a lot on LinkedIn of all places. I’ll see a post like “never hire people with a high college GPA.” Ummm what? My bet is the people who truly believe this message received crummy grades and the act of sharing an “inspirational” LinkedIn post makes them feel better about their lack of discipline in college. I can say this because my GPA was not all that impressive. I had a lot of growing up to do! While I’m not sure academic performance is a huge indicator of success in the professional world, I certainly don’t believe that someone who received better grades than I did, is less employable.
So, what is the point of feeling better about yourself? Is life truly some sort of competition where you have to beat people at everything? What is the meaning behind this madness? Jokes on everyone…it is meaningless. The competition — beyond going after our basic human needs — is only entertainment.
What if we looked up to the people we envy instead of picking them apart? Isn’t that a better use of our energy? Alternatively, what if we all minded our own business and stopped comparing ourselves to those around us? It’s a tall order, I know. That said, everyone has their own scenic route to follow, and a race to the red light will only result in a $200+ ticket.