Ever since we were little, we’ve been taught that we’re all in competition with each other. In primary school we were given awards for the best macaroni necklace and in high school biology we learned about survival of the fittest.
So naturally, we’re inclined to become jealous of one another if we feel that they’re in the way of what we want.
This is ESPECIALLY not cool if the person in your way is your mate.
The great thing about going to university is that you get to hang out with like-minded people who are working towards the same or similar goals as you. However, this also means you’ll probably be competing against them to get a high grade or, eventually, a job.
Now I know what you’re thinking:
‘Eliza,’ you’re saying. ‘You’re so self-confident and well adjusted, you’d never get jealous of your mates… would you?’
Well guys, this will come as a massive shock to you, but I too have, from time to time, become jealous of my uni mates.
No matter what you’re studying, you’re probably going to go through an assignment situation where you have to compete for roles: project manager, group leader etc… In the media program, we have to compete against each other for our desired role when making films.
While this is a fantastic exercise because it’s how job selection usually happens in ‘the real world’, it’s also pretty awful. In the media program, every student has to stand up in front of the class and explain why they’re better than their friends at performing a particular role.
After going through this a few times during my degree, I’ve developed a couple of ways to deal with competing against my mates.
First of all, try to keep the competition as professional as possible.
Remember that your friend is probably feeling just as uncomfortable competing against you as you are competing against them. Try to leave the competing in the classroom or interview room; once you’re outside the situation, try to focus on more positive aspects of your friendship. Also, avoid making personal attacks about your mate and focus more on how well you can do the job.
Keep in mind that if your friend gets the job you wanted, you will have gained an awesome contact in your desired industry, which could come in handy in the future.
The second thing to remember is that you are unique. You are one of a kind and you have different talents and skills to your friends.
Going back to our high school ‘survival of the fittest’ lessons, we were taught that animals are in constant competition in order to uh… avoid ‘going to the farm’. However, another survival tactic animals have is to adapt and find their niche in order to contribute to the world order in their own special way. You can do this too! You just need to find out what you’re special talent is and how you can contribute to the working world order.
A good way to find out where your talents lie are in your grades; while your mate might get distinctions in the communication subjects, you might be better at research and therefore do better in analysis subjects. This could lead to a career in research. Sometimes our talents surprise us, and if this is the case, you might not be sure how they will help your career.
I’m really bad at most sports and I’m not very academic (seriously, if someone can explain long division to me I’ll give you my first-born), BUT I can talk under wet cement and I love questioning everything. While my skills weren’t appreciated too much at school, once I started studying media and journalism at uni I WAS IN MY ELEMENT.
This was because I had found my niche, my groove.
Once you’ve found your groove you can use this as a selling point when you have to compete against your friends. When you’re in an interview or doing an assignment, focus on your unique skills instead of comparing yourself to your friends.
Competition is a fact of life, but when it comes to competing with your friends try not to take it personally. Remember that you’re all just trying to survive in this sometimes brutal world and in the end your mates will be there to support you and help you out when possible.
To quote that one girl from Mean Girls, ‘I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and we could all eat a piece and be happy’.
But that’s not how the world works unfortunately, so just focus on why you’re awesome and you’ll find that trying to get a job or a good grade won’t be as painful as Year 11 biology class.