I woke up this morning to a friend’s birthday reminder on Facebook. As one of my best and oldest (ahem!) friends from high school, I always love reminiscing about our very unusual friend-courtship; we actually first met in grade school when we were both in the Iowa City Girls Choir. (maybe it was named something else, but I have a horrible memory.)
Attending different schools, we reconnected in junior high through a church group–funny, I know–and at some point in our early friendship, she was introducing me to ouija boards and all things spooky. (now that’s more like it.)
And then we hated each other.
I don’t know exactly why– I don’t know if it started in those petty junior high years or when we both came together in our first year of high school, but, there it is. I’m sure it had something to do with competition, as we both were heavily involved in choir and swing choir, and were probably always competing for that ever-coveted solo or ‘special act’. (The ‘Good Time Company’ was pretty much Glee on a much smaller, much less glamorous 1980’s Iowa scale.)
Then came How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. No, this wasn’t a college course or self-help book–were those even around in the early 80’s??–, but a musical. She and I both tried out for the lead–she got it. I was pissed. But I did get a nice, juicy part; the supporting actress, Smitty, who was a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac. (always an achievement to work toward in high school.) The problem was, our characters were best friends.
I wondered how I was going to pull that off–I didn’t even want to be in the same room with her, let alone pretending to be all chummy. Talk about testing the old acting ability! But a funny thing happened on the way to the theater; as rehearsals went on, over time, life started to imitate art. And by our last curtain call, we were the very best of friends. For reals.
We love to laugh about it all now. She probably remembers how it all went down much better than I do, but at this point, it just doesn’t matter. (name that 80’s summer camp movie…!)
How many times do we do this kind of thing? Whether it be in a friendship, partnership or with a colleague–for some reason we will get on the wrong foot with someone and before we know it, it’s festering inside us and we make it way bigger than it needs to be. A perceived flippant remark. A forgotten anniversary. A coveted promotion or position that was ‘taken away from us’.
As humans we feel that life is one big competition–we have to be better, smarter, stronger, prettier– you name the ‘er’.
We post our perfect lives on social media to feed into this idea. I’m just as guilty! How many times have I scolded my hubby for using a wide angle lens on his camera that makes my arm look it’s the size of my thigh?
But think about it–what are we competing for?
Why do we always feel we have to prove something to be worthy? We have to be the best or we are nothing? And really, what is the best? Why do we always feel like there isn’t enough of the ‘good stuff’ to go around?
SO many questions that can’t get answered in a blog post or even in a lifetime–because it’s the constant struggle of being human. It’s bred right into us. It’s a work in ever-progress to rise above that way of thinking and being. But I believe it’s something we should be practicing every day.
If I look back on Eve and I’s ‘competition’, it was for….what? A high school solo in which there would be many more? Even if there wasn’t, what real difference would it make in my life if I didn’t get one? And she did? A few minutes of extra attention that would soon be just another day in high school life until the next concert.
As I step back to look at what it is I thought I might have gained from holding this grudge, I realize now that I had much more to lose. Sure, our story got a happy ending, but I feel like I lost out on what could have been a few more precious years of giggly phone calls, no-sleep sleepovers and séances that would have scared the shit out of my mom.
Think about your life–okay, how about even a day–without feeling like you are in a competition?
Like there is nothing to prove to anyone, even yourself. Don’t you feel lighter when you imagine that? If someone else gets that job, well shit! There is something else for you. You made a mistake? Ok, you learned that now, and you’ll get better next time. Someone else made a mistake? More than likely it has little to do with you.
You don’t feel perfect? News flash: NO ONE is.
Let’s practice letting go, trusting the process and lightening the fuck up already. Life is hard enough without us choosing to make it harder! How are you going to choose to feel today?