By Olivia Crescenzi, IATG ContributorJune 29, 2016
I played competitive soccer for almost ten years until a knee injury ended my Olympic dream. Okay, let’s be real… I was never going to the Olympics, and I knew that. But that’s besides the point. I am no stranger to competition. Competition surrounds us daily at school, at work, between women, and, sometimes even worse, between friends. It seems as though we’re constantly trying to one-up everyone around us just to make it to the top, but what we keep forgetting is what happens once we get there. What do we do once we’ve burned so many bridges on the way up that we can barely hold ourselves steady at the top?
Let’s talk about it.
Competition is great in sports, necessary even. It’s what makes the game so exciting and intense and always keeps us on our feet, yelling in the stands or through our TV screens. Some may also argue that a little ‘healthy’ competition is good in the workplace and in school as well. It helps us strive to attain our goals and keeps our eyes and minds on the prize. I think we can all remember a time when a small sense of competition helped keep us motivated until the very end.
But who says that competition has any place between us girls?
Body image. Intelligence. Social status. Guys’ attention. Instagram likes. You name it. If girls are involved, there’s probably a lot more than ‘healthy’ competition surrounding it. I often wonder when competition between girls and women became normal. Who was the first female to look at another and say, “I need to beat her. In order to justify my self-worth, I need to be better than her.” Was it the first woman on earth? Or could it be a product of modern society.
The media is literally seeping in envy-ridden competition. We see magazine covers and television shows filled with women who, for some reason, we believe to fit the cookie-cutter ‘perfect’ image better than we do, and we instantly need to find a reason to put her down. We watch models walking down the runway and shame them for being too thin, as if the only way to make ourselves feel better is by projecting our own shame onto them. We watch as a girl steps on stage with the highest GPA in the class and instantly start telling ourselves she must have been born a natural intellect, that we just weren’t lucky enough and had to fight and work harder than she ever has to achieve good marks. We walk down the street, take one look at another girl crossing at the light, and make swift eye-contact before looking away as if we totally weren’t looking in the first place.
What if, instead of having a competitive lens over our eyes and minds at every turn, we took a turn at collaboration, celebrating other women instead of shaming them for their wins and bodies? What if we recognized our own beauty and strength in the process, joining hands instead of turning our eyes away?
All of the power rests within us to start making a change.
Just imagine what would happen if we tried making small changes to collaborate rather than compete with each other. Imagine the power we would have, the great things we could achieve together! I say we flip on the collaboration lens and keep the competition for the sports. They don’t say ‘women will change the world’ for nothing. But if one thing’s for sure, no one can do it alone. I say collaborating women will make the change. So let’s do it – take my hand and join me!
Give collaboration a shot this week! Grab your gal pals at work or school and have a conversation about competition! Things will only change if we start the trend!
Olivia is a twenty-year-old Microbiology & Immunology student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. On the (more often than not) moments that she's caught procrastinating her studying, she is just your regular teenager (yes, still) that values friends, family and dramatic reality TV more than anyone. She is a collaborator, an empathizer, and pretty middle ground between an idealist and a realist. Most importantly and above all, however, she's obsessed with our culture as young girls and women, and she wants nothing more than to delve deep into this important discussion with yo