Some things in life, like triathlons and standardized tests, are competitions.
Others just are not.
In any group conversation, see how long it takes for commiseration to turn into one-upmanship. “Oh, your roommate leaves out dirty dishes? I totally understand your pain. Mine invites drug dealers over and breeds kittens in the bathtub.” “Your husband is out of town for work this week? Poor you. Mine was overseas for six months without Internet access, it was brutal.”
I like to believe that most of this competitiveness does truly come from a place of empathy, but it’s time to take a step back.
Here are 13 things in life that just aren’t a competition (so stop it already):
1. Who is the busiest. Busy is cool now, which is great if you’re someone who needs a million self-imposed obligations to feel happy and productive. But being a person who takes time for herself in the form of nights spent watching Netflix is cool, too.
2. Who wears the smallest clothing size. Oh, you wear a children’s medium? Good for you.
3. Who is the most stressed. Being part of a conversation where everyone brags about how stressed they are and tries to come out on top as the Queen Of Stress is quite demoralizing. Why is no one trying to compete for the title of “most zen?”
4. Who got the fewest hours of sleep. Thrive, people!
5. Who used the fewest of their vacation days last year. Way too many people took ZERO vacation days in 2014.
6. Whose engagement ring is biggest. If you are an engaged person who has chosen to wear a ring, the size of the ring is completely irrelevant. What matters is that said ring is meaningful to you and your partner, because love is not measured by the size of a diamond.
7. Who is the bendiest person in yoga class. Everyone started somewhere, and sometimes that means starting from a place where you can’t touch your toes.
8. Who eats the most restrictive diet. I tell you I can’t eat gluten because I don’t want you to try to feed it to me, not to boast about how “healthy” I am. There is no need to one-up me by talking about your vegan, raw-til-four, sugar-free, grain-free, alcohol-free regimen.
9. Who is the most tan. USE YOUR COMMON SENSE and just get a spray tan, for god’s sake.
10. Who is the most oppressed, also known as The Oppression Olympics. No. Just… no. Listen to the concerns of oppressed minorities and respect their narratives. Do not try to make their struggles about you.
11. Who was the most drunk at that party last weekend. Really?
12. Who feels most guilty about the food you just ate together. “I can’t believe I ate those fries.” “I can’t believe I had two brownies!” Argh! It’s bad enough that people feel food guilt in the first place, there’s no need to make it comparative.
13. Whose breakup was the most devastating. Heartbreak is heartbreak, no matter the reason. A friend’s breakup may look “amicable” from the outside compared to what happened when you were cheated on, but don’t be dismissive of their pain just because you think you had it worse.
Taking a second to realize that not everything in life is a competition — or, in fact, about you at all — is a weird but ultimately gratifying thought experiment.
There are no winners at a pity party.
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