Put your game face on, girls. We’re here to tell you why com­pe­ti­tion isn’t al­ways a bad thing.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Contents -

We’re all for friendly fe­male com­pe­ti­tion.

“When guys com­pete, it’s overt. When girls com­pete, it’s art.” ‘90s teen flick Drive Me

Crazy was on to some­thing. Pro­tag­o­nist Ni­cole Maris (Melissa Joan Hart) was in the mid­dle of yet an­other on-again, off-again power play with her fren­emy slash best friend Ali­cia. Bat­tling it out for the at­ten­tions of the all-star bas­ket­ball player or Ni­cole’s hot­tie neigh­bor Chase Ham­mond (Adrian Gre­nier) did not in­volve cat­fights, name-call­ing or fisticuffs. In­stead, the high school se­niors bat­tled it out with their wits, covert sub­terfuge and charm, giv­ing just a tiny bit of cre­dence to the clichés that come with women in com­pe­ti­tion.

Take the aging ac­tress ver­sus on­screen in­génue in the 1950 movie All About

Eve and shud­der at the mere idea of hash­ing it out with Bette Davis. Wit­ness ri­valry turn dark and sor­did in the ‘80s cult clas­sic

Heathers. Fast for­ward to the early aughts and see Lind­say Lo­han ex­act re­venge on Regina Ge­orge and The Plas­tics. Run through your R&B playlist on Spo­tify and lis­ten to Mon­ica and Brandy claim “The Boy is Mine” or Lucy Pearl ward off scrag­glers with “Don’t Mess with My Man.” And see the cesspool of re­pressed re­sent­ment among up­per class women in the coastal town of Mon­terey in Big Lit­tle Lies.

The trope that pits one woman against the other isn’t go­ing away any­time soon. And while com­pe­ti­tion, in gen­eral, is in no way gen­der spe­cific, peo- ple have, time and again, doc­u­mented, fic­tion­al­ized, glo­ri­fied, and even at­tempted to nor­mal­ize fe­male ri­valry. Per­haps be­cause Drive Me Crazy did have a point—the ma­neu­vers and du­plic­ity that come with fe­male com­pe­ti­tion is art in that it can be fas­ci­nat­ing, grotesque, po­lar­iz­ing, and mys­ti­fy­ing to watch and live out.

Get Your Head out of the Gut­ter

It’s one thing to see all the ug­li­ness un­fold in fic­tion, it’s an­other to wit­ness it IRL. In a per­fect world, fe­males up­lift and sup­port each other, ev­ery­one in­hab­it­ing a utopian love-filled bub­ble. It is per­verse to see women tear each other down, and even more vi­cious to ex­pe­ri­ence a sense of schaden­freude when it hap­pens. But we as hu­mans are im­per­fect, and so is the world we live in. And com­pe­ti­tion does ex­ist and can get ugly.

That said, we don’t have to turn ev­ery lit­tle bat­tle into a dra­matic cliffhanger. Want­ing to best some­one in the work­place or even in a close-knit friend

group doesn’t have to turn dirty. We can in­stead try to ac­cept the re­al­ity of com­pe­ti­tion (fe­male-cen­tric and oth­er­wise) and be bet­ter peo­ple for it. It’s pos­si­ble to take the art that lives and breathes in ri­valry and put a more pos­i­tive, more op­ti­mistic spin on it.

Mind Your own Back­yard

But where does the irre- press­ible need to com­pete with oth­ers start? Some­times, com­pe­ti­tion is in­sti­gated by ex­ter­nal fac­tors—a bully taunt­ing you in grade school can, decades later, have you want­ing to prove your­self amidst hap­less co-work­ers. Par­ents con­stantly com­par­ing you and your sis­ter grow­ing up, for ex­am­ple, can har­ness deep scars that may re­sult in be­ing ex­tra and un­nec­es­sar­ily com­pet­i­tive with oth­ers years later.

Other times, the cause of be­ing ul­tra com­pet­i­tive can rise from an in­ter­nal kind of hurt. Feel­ing like your best friend is re­plac­ing you for a shinier, newer, cooler ac­quain­tance (check out the bri­dal shower speech scene in the com­edy Brides­maids) can push you to one-up your game. Meet­ing your ex’s new girl­friend or—gasp— wife can urge you to hit the gym seven days a week, with­out fail, try­ing to beat your per­sonal best (even if your ex isn’t watch­ing).

The ugly side of com­pe­ti­tion—the one that’s usu­ally writ­ten about, made into movies, or turned into songs—should not nec­es­sar­ily be shunned be­cause it’s ugly. The shadow of

We can in­stead try to ac­cept the re­al­ity of com­pe­ti­tion and be bet­ter peo­ple for it.

com­pe­ti­tion should be con­fronted and looked at be­cause it can in­di­cate a deeper void at your core. Reel­ing peo­ple into your own story or drama by com­pet­ing with them may be a re­flec­tion of hurt or pain that has noth­ing to do with the other per­son at all.

It is in this re­gard that com­pe­ti­tion can be a pos­i­tive thing. If we’re self-aware enough to catch our­selves pit­ting an un­know­ing en­emy against us, we can re­di­rect our­selves to our own is­sues and fig­ure out how to clean things up.

Know when not to stoop

Al­ter­na­tively, when it’s a nag­ging need to com­pete with some­one else for the sheer plea­sure of com­ing out The Win­ner, it’s im­por­tant to rec­og­nize your bound­aries. Is this ri­valry—whether un­re­quited or mu­tual— ac­tu­ally about some­thing that re­ally mat­ters in the long run? Are you try­ing to best your an­noy­ing co­worker be­cause you know your boss needs to fi­nally pay at­ten­tion to the sub­stan­tial work you’re bring­ing, or are you spin­ning a web of end­less drama be­cause your ego needs a pat on the back?

Pet­ti­ness is never pretty, most es­pe­cially when it comes to hash­ing it out for a man’s at­ten­tions. Think back to Jane Austen hero­ine Emma (or Clue­less’s Cher Horowitz), who was so used to be­ing the cen­ter of at­ten­tion that she prac­ti­cally got slammed when she found out an­other, po­ten­tially ‘bet­ter’ per­son was mak­ing a bee­line for the ob­ject of her af­fec­tion. Nei­ther Emma nor Cher stooped, and in­stead tried to do a 180°, shift­ing from en­ti­tled brat to as­pir­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian.

Give Com­pe­ti­tion a Good name

So how can you make like Emma and turn things around? Ev­ery­thing starts with good in­ten­tions. If you com­pete from a place that aims to bet­ter your­self rather than best some­one else, you know you’re in the right place. Make what­ever ri­valry you’ve got go­ing all about be­com­ing a bet­ter per­son and what­ever the out­come is, you’ve al­ready come out the win­ner. ➤ Com­pete as equals. Rec­og­nize the mer­its of your “com­pe­ti­tion” and al­low her bright spots to shine light on what you can im­prove about your­self. Play within fair and even grounds in­stead of cut­ting cor­ners, ma­nip­u­lat­ing your con­nec­tions, or twist­ing truths just to get ahead. No­body loves a bully. Ever.

➤ Com­pete at craft. Make it about your abil­i­ties rather than your char­ac­ter.

Trabaho lang. Aim to crush the com­mon be­lief that women can’t op­er­ate with­out get­ting their feel­ings in­volved and show that you can be the ul­ti­mate pro­fes­sional even in a sit­u­a­tion that has you fully and wholly in­vested. ➤ En­sure that the compe

tition you’re in is valid. Give your­self a re­ally good talk­ing to and as­sess whether this is a petty is­sue that doesn’t de­serve any­one’s time, or whether it’s ac­tu­ally a se­ri­ous mat­ter. Go back to your in­ten­tion. Are you try­ing to sur­pass a so­cial me­dia in­flu­encer’s num­ber of fol­low­ers be­cause you hate her guts? Or are you try­ing to raise the num­bers to build brand aware­ness and ac­tu­ally in­crease sales? There’s a

huge dif­fer­ence be­tween the two.

➤ Do it for your­self. Make com­pe­ti­tion all about reach­ing your per­sonal best, and ev­ery­thing else that’s unim­por­tant falls by the way­side. In­stead of con­stantly com­par­ing your­self with oth­ers, bring about pos­i­tiv­ity by track­ing the changes you’ve seen in your­self. Putting the fo­cus back on you and your gains, rather than on some­one else and how their ex­is­tence val­i­dates your losses, can turn things around.

Keep Your­self in CHECK

When all is said and done, you want what­ever ri­valry, com­pe­ti­tion or bat­tle you’re in to yield a bet­ter, health­ier sense of self-worth. Com­pe­ti­tion may have you in­volv­ing oth­ers, but ul­ti­mately, how you com­pete and why will al­ways boil down to you. Play fair, play wisely, and play to have fun, and no mat­ter what hap­pens, you’ll emerge from all of this a champ.

Ev­ery­thing starts with good in­ten­tions.

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