I am Not Competing with Anyone

Wednesday, 12 July 2017 - 09:18:25 WIB
By : Tirta Pangestu Putri | Category: Social Issues - 4025 hits
During my last year of high school, I had a change of mind regarding the major that I wanted to pursue in college. Although I had wanted to study English Literature, I chose Economics instead. Part of the reason was what my friends had told me: “Others want to study Economics in college, but they can’t because they only have average scores. You have high scores, so why don’t you apply for Economics?” They told me that the top rated majors for Social Science students are Economics, Accounting, International Relations, or Communications, so I should choose one of them instead of “settling” with English.

Long story short, I was not accepted. In the end, I majored in English Literature. At first, the rejection made me feel terrible about myself, but then my parents reminded me that studying English was something that I had wanted from a long time ago.

“Having high scores does not mean you have to choose the same majors that other people with highs scores choose in college. What if you’re not happy just because you want to prove others that you’re smart?” They pretty much told me. Since then I understand that I should stop doing something just because other people do it.

The culture of making life a competition is ingrained in Indonesian culture, just listen to the questions people tend to ask us:

“When will you graduate?”

“Have you get a boyfriend?”

“You’re of age now, when are you planning to get married?”

“Where do you work?”

“When will you have a child?”

Older generations may reason that  those questions are simply a way to open up conversations, but what they are not aware of is that this type of questions will only heighten the dissatisfaction of the persons being asked, if it is something they do not have or have not achieved yet.

It is as if there is a contest going on and a certain script that we have to follow as a participant: excel at school, study medical/business in college, have a romantic partner, graduate at 21, get a job, get married before 25, have children, and so on. To make it more complicated, there seem to be new “standards” for a good, satisfying life now. You must travel a lot, watch a Coldplay concert at least once in your life, do endorsements in social media, get the LPDP scholarship abroad, have a lavish wedding, be an entrepreneur – the list goes on.

My newfound determination not to treat life as a competition is probably the main reason I don’t use Instagram and Path anymore. Whenever I opened those two social media, I always felt like there was a kind of race going on. Look at the places I went to! The things I made! The outfit I wore! Here are my cool friends, we hung out at this place yesterday, it was lit! Oh I did not go there with my friends, but look at what my family and I did this weekend! Isn’t it amazing? My boyfriend is the one who took these OOTD pictures of me. His photography skill is top notch, right?

At first my reaction was simple. Wow, that’s great. How fun! Must be nice to go there. Oh, this is such a lovely outfit! Where did s/he buy them? I wonder how much does this skincare set costs? After some time, though, I realized that something had changed.

Whenever I see pictures of my friends having a vacation, I’d feel bitter. I want to go to this place too. Wow, I want to have a great skin like that. There were also others that were kind of toxic, such as why can’t I be like her/him? I want to have that as well. Why don’t my friends and I ever do the same thing? Why isn’t my partner as romantic as hers?

I kept comparing my life to theirs and questioning why I was not like them. Ah, I should be like this. I should have done this. I should have it by now. It got to the point that I detested being on social media because I could not stomach seeing updates from my friends. Then one day, I decided I had had enough. All the comparing and questioning were getting unhealthy for my mental state.

Of course sometimes it’s okay to take other people’s achievement as an example of how I should strive to be, especially if it’s for the betterment of my life, but most of the time, I have to remind myself that, no, I’m not competing with anyone. Other people’s choices in life are not the same choices that I have to make for my own. Other people’s choices in life probably won’t make me happy the way they make them happy.

This friend already landed an internship by the end of our fourth semester in college, it’s okay if I only started after my sixth semester. A cousin already started paying for his own house at 22, it’s okay if I will have not done the same thing by the time I’m 22. When I found out that my close friend already got a full-time job while I was still looking for one, I told myself, “It’s okay.” I am not in a competition of who’s more successful, who’s smarter, who’s luckier... I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone.

Life is not a competition. We all have our own timeline; we all decide on our own parts in life.

Tirta Pangestu Putri is a lover of glazed donuts, cheap jokes, and issues about gender and equality. When she’s not translating nor proofreading, she could be found watching makeup tutorials or reading romance books.

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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L | 12 July 2017 | 19:05:01 WIB
Thank u very much for writing this :) this perfectly addresses my moral dilemma, as sometimes unconciously I felt very jealous of my friends that scored juicy opportunities before me. Thank you for reminding me that life is no competition and that we have our own timeline, so no need to bother others'.
P | 12 July 2017 | 12:16:16 WIB
On point. Exactly what I have in mind as well. That's why I quit Instagram now.
Merry | 12 July 2017 | 13:19:01 WIB
Yes. Totally relatable, Instagram was fun 2 or 3 years back. Now everybody i know are all "ngartis". I closed down my first instagram account and made a new one but only had 2 friends, my siblings. Problem solved.
Ruby - Astari | 13 July 2017 | 06:33:18 WIB
I've stopped being competitive with anyone but myself the moment I realised it was not getting me anywhere. I still join writing competitions and stuff, but more for fun and mental sport. If I win, good. If not, there's always another. I also still use social media more for my writing craft. If people like my work, good. If not, take it or leave it.

Yeah, the expected 'generic timeline' sucks. I'm 35 and still single and some accuse me of not 'trying hard enough'. Whatever, this is my life. Let God decide.
Nindy | 18 July 2017 | 12:31:55 WIB
Yeah, i wrote the same topic as yours here https://foxyunicorn.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/asli-atau-pal su/ days ago. Sure as hell i'm not alone in this.
Nindy | 18 July 2017 | 12:33:42 WIB
Oops incorrect link. You should be directed here https://foxyunicorn.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/asli-atau-pal su/

I wish more people aware of this kind of shitty competition
Serine | 21 July 2017 | 08:51:20 WIB
I had the same experience with how social media makes me feel insecure. As I'm not the person who can live without social media (i still have the urge to kepo on people sometimes..) I decided to take a social media break for about two months and it made me feel a lot better. It really was a good decision to stop and take a breather from the mediated world when everything there starts to overwhelm you.
Diana | 21 August 2017 | 02:20:19 WIB
Menurutku Instagram bukanlah semua tentang Kompetisi, ketika kita melihat secara positif, Instagram bisa menjadi Inspirasi besar untuk hidup kita. Kemarin aku baca artikel ini dan aku setuju https://www.girlboss.com/girlboss/how-to-look-after-yourse lf-on-instagram?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=so cial&utm_campaign=girlboss - terkadang kita iri dengan feed dan kehidupan orang lain di media sosial, namun hal itu jangan membuat kita negatif, tapi jadikanlah itu inspirasi positif untuk membuat kita lebih kreatif dalam hidup dan membuat kita lebih termotivasi untuk mencapai tujuan :)
Dane | 22 August 2017 | 12:49:10 WIB
It's true that nowadays, social media is the main reason of life competition. Looking at others' perfect life and compare it with ours is the bad habit we should really stop. Instead of deleting Instagram, I start to think about "do not compare yourself with somebody on the internet" (I know you do the same). Because I think, in this modern era, social media is needed not only to show off what we have and what we do but also as a platform to show who we really are. as a platform to 'rebrand' ourselves and of course to spread the positive vibes!
In Instagram, I start to follow the people who do not only pamer-pamer harta melimpah, but those who also share their thought and inspire others. Here is one of the great account I follow https://www.instagram.com/valerialipovetsky/?hl=en . She's a model, a mom, a woman with great personalities and she changes the way I see social media:)
B | 01 September 2017 | 11:46:45 WIB
This is exactly what I thought! Glad to know that there are other people who feel the same way. My parents pushed me to take post-grad right after I finish my bachelor degree, but I want to pursue my passion as an athlete and still haven't told them about it yet.

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