Life is not a zero-sum game
There is competition but perhaps less than you assume
In our competitive society, we face pressure to perform. To borrow the words of Henri Nouwen, we live in “a world constantly trying to convince us that the burden is on us to prove that we are worthy.”
Still, the idea that there's intense competition all the time is exaggerated.
There certainly is competition. But outside of specific situations, such as applying for schools or jobs or working in sales, you are not directly competing with others. Life is not a zero-sum game.
Do you want to bring your best self to your work? Absolutely.
Do you want to excel and be favored for promotions? Most do.
But if you feel like you're constantly competing with those around you - striving for attention, respect, status, acceptance - that's exhausting. It's counterproductive and detrimental to your mental health.
Let me tell you this: People aren't out to get you. They're not looking for ways to one-up you. Yes, some industries are known to be more cutthroat than others. But the majority aren't like that.
For most people reading this, your classmates and coworkers aren't all competing with you. They may have different goals and interests and levels of ambition. Most do not view you as a competitor.
In fact, the people around you generally like you more than you think. They want to see you succeed. They don't need you to prove yourself worthy. Some would support your endeavors not because they are so impressed with your work but simply because they know you.
So focus less on competing, more on building relationships. Less on getting ahead, more on making an impact. Less on your public image, more on your skills and character. Less on others' definitions of success, more on what matters to you.
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