Lemonnator

Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

Life is all about competition. Another cliched essay brought to you by yours truly.

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

I have always been amused by Darwin’s theory of evolution: the survival of the fittest. Individuals, no matter how strong or how intelligent, do not exist in a vacuum. Competition is just as inevitable as taxes and as death.

We are conditioned to compete from a tender age. People don’t realise that preschool is, in fact, a vicious training ground. When I went to preschool, during playtime, the teacher would pull out a box filled to the brim with Barbie dolls. Some of the dolls had their heads bitten off, some of their dresses were torn, and some of them had their hair cruelly ripped from their plastic scalps. But one doll in the entire box was brand new; her hair was still glossy and attached to her head, her clothes were still pristine and her limbs still intact. Every day, when it was playtime, every child–including me–would fight tooth and nail for that perfect Barbie. I will never forget that overwhelming sense of pride and euphoria when I mercilessly shoved a boy aside and grabbed that Barbie for myself. I had learned in preschool what it was like to be superior.

As I grew older and reached Secondary School, Barbie had a different name: Academic Results. Every student–including me–fought tooth and nail for the top score, for its bragging rights. But fighting for grades proved more complicated than fighting for a doll, and so it was in Secondary School that I learned about inferiority. It was the bitter swill of injustice and inferiority that drove me to fight harder.

The competition gets worse in the working world. I have not experienced the bloodthirsty battle for jobs and bonuses and promotions, but from what I hear, life and its hostile rat race does not get easier when you graduate. In our world today, the population has increased rapidly and exponentially, while recession has caused the economy to shrink just as quickly. There seems to be a tiny number of jobs for an infinite number of people–a limited number of Barbies for a countless number of chubby preschoolers.

To make things worse, it is getting even more difficult to stand out in an environment where more people are graduating from university, more people are getting more qualified, perhaps more qualified than yourself. If, by some miracle, you manage to win a job, then you will fight even harder for the promotion or that pay rise. The tendency to compete is inherent in every one of us. We are conditioned to fight, because we are innately afraid of that dreaded moment when the Barbie falls into undeserving hands.

The human race has evolved such that every individual has the “competitive” gene. I believe this gene replaced what was initially inherent in all of us: Satisfaction.

The root of competition is the dissatisfaction of being inferior. I do not claim to know how to win all the contests life has in store, but perhaps it is time to recondition the human race to be more appreciative, to stop and smell the roses. It is idealistic, but I imagine we would all be much happier if we accepted our own Barbies–headless or limbless–rather than competing for that shiny new doll that will ultimately be marred from all the bloodthirsty grabbing. Yes, life is about competition. It shouldn’t be.

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