By Jen Fine, Regular Contributor June 15, 2016
In many aspects of life there will be friction. There will be the inevitable tug of war between wanting and needing, between fighting for what appeals to us and pulling away out of fear, exhaustion, or the realization that the prize just isn’t worth it. There will be the winners, and there will be their loser counterparts. So in the game of love– in the more and more common competition for another’s affection despite the consequences– how will we know if we’ve won or lost?
It’s simple: we won’t.
I’ve been a female for almost twenty-one years, and, let me tell you, I have heard, seen, laughed at, and partaken in a multitude of ridiculous girl-on-girl competitions. Some of these power struggles involved hair and makeup, while others involved having the nicest clothes or being the best at counting calories.
The one thing that I have refused to go head-to-head for is a boy.
Over the last few years, more specifically my college ones, I have realized that many of the young women I know often fight for a male’s attention. It is through this battle – this exhausting yearning to win over what they think is the man of their dreams – that I believe these women lose sight of the love they could have for each other and, more importantly, themselves.
Let’s face it, everybody wants to complete somebody, to have someone treat them as they deserve.
I wonder, though, at what cost? What parts of ourselves do we let go of when a boy we like, or think that we like, comes walking by? Which of our passions do we put on hold while we dream up fantasies? What friends do walk over to be first in line for whatever we think this other individual can give us?
I know in my case it has always been clear that my ambition and my desire to advance myself as a moral and respectable individual and as a career-focused undergrad have taken precedence. Does that mean that I consciously choose to stay inside on the weekends and get myself in bed at a reasonable hour? Does that mean that I refuse to go out and have fun and meet new people? No, absolutely not. Instead, I find a balance. Not only do I try to decide what I want and don’t want, I constantly remind myself that if I lose who I am in the process of gaining these other things, they probably aren’t worth having in the first place.
By recognizing this tug of war, this unnerving friction between what I want and what has no place in my life, it has become possible for me to realize that a significant other or a guy’s attention will never fill the void if I don’t love the person I have become first. While competition is exciting, and I welcome the friendly kind, I cannot justify competing for the attention of some guy. If this person was destined to come into my life and stay there, then I’m pretty confident I won’t need to win a competition to come out on top – I will have already won in all the ways that matter.
Competition can get ugly, but you don’t have to! Tell us how you put yourself first!
Jen is currently a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She enjoys all things sarcastic, obsessing over the New York Rangers, and is a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee fanatic. When she’s not singing in the shower, writing her feelings, or dishing out life advice to her friends, you can catch her lying around watching One Tree Hill for the third time. Feel free to check out her personal blog at jenfine.wordpress.com for more!