As I get older, I find myself asking more and more questions about the purpose of competition… at least when it comes to this crazy ride we call Life.
IMO, comparing one’s life to someone else’s doesn’t make any sense. No two people have the exact same story… we are all unique, and every twist and turn in our individual journey is different from EVERYONE ELSE’S twists and turns. Why in the world would I ever compare my own journey to someone else’s? I don’t know where they’ve been. And chances are more than likely that we don’t necessarily want to end up at the exact same destination. It feels like comparing apples to motors. It just seems silly.
Admittedly, I’ve never been an extremely competitive person, which is part of the reason I left TV news to enter another career. It’s a very competitive business, and I just never had it in me. One of the reasons I ultimately decided to go was because I had heard from more than one supervisor during contract negotiations, “you know, there are people lining up around the block to get your job.” The last time I heard that, I replied with, “glad to hear it. Then it won’t be all that difficult to find someone to replace me.” I’m sure they thought I was being a smart ass at the time— since my boss had meant the comment as a not-so-veiled threat (i.e.,”we can get anyone in here to replace you”)— but the truth is, I said it sincerely. The direction news was headed— I didn’t want to do it anymore. So it only made sense to get someone else in there who could appreciate the position more than I did. In fact, I wished them well.
What prompted this post, however, was a story about someone who has gone through a difficult time— experiencing deep loss and death of many loved ones. I don’t think most people would deny that it’s a tragedy. And yet, the first comment about the story was, “well, MY story is much worse.” And yes, this person’s situation sounded horrible, too. But that’s not really the point, is it?
I strongly believe that pain is not a competition. Everyone experiences it at some point or another in their lives. Some people feel it constantly, while others might not feel it quite as much.
We are ALL living a life chock full of experiences offering varying amounts of joy and pain. When I’m in pain, others might be feeling joy… and vice versa. If we’re both in pain— we’re both in pain. My pain in NO WAY invalidates your pain… and yours does not invalidate mine. Let’s just try to help each other get through it, okay?
Not to mention, the pain competition is not a competition I want to win.