The grass always looks greener on the other side, it is a fallacy of reasoning – Ololade Ajekigbe
Ever run into an old friend and observed them sizing you up? And when I say sizing up, I don’t mean the long-time-no-see kind of sizing up. I mean the Is-she-looking-good kind. It happens all the time. 2 people meet after a considerable amount of time, and both of them automatically start checking out whose clothes look more expensive, who drives the bigger car, who appears to be more successful. Somewhere in our subconscious we feel the need to compete with one another. We are scared that our contemporaries will do better than us, so we work harder and keep a tab on their lives to make sure we are at par or are even doing better than them
Let me say that this competition is usually among close friends, colleagues and extended family. Sometimes, It is not about who has a higher paying job or drives a bigger car. It could be who got married first, who had kids first, whose husband or wife is more handsome or prettier. It’s interesting how we are constantly competing with one another albeit silently. Of course, no one will admit this, it can only be observed from the body language. 2 old friends meet, and after exchanging pleasantries and doing some catching up, one is thinking… “She may have a better job, but I am married and she’s not,” or “She is a single mother, while I have a husband.” And the other is also thinking “She has 2 girls, but I have a balance of both genders,” For the guys it may be… “Even though he was more brilliant in school, I am richer now.” We look for what is seemingly lacking in others to validate ourselves.
I didn’t get a job until almost a year after my NYSC. I can remember starting to feel frustrated sitting at home doing nothing, especially each time I ran into a school mate and they told me they now worked at so and so place. I would feel bad and wonder why I hadn’t been able to secure a job even after writing and passing a number of tests. In my quest to get a job, I spoke to a couple of people, and I’ll never forget what one of them said to me. He said “Lolade, I know it may seem as if your mates are ahead of you now, but don’t worry you will find something to do soon and see that in 5 years, almost everyone will be on the same level more or less. There won’t be much difference, of course someone will drive a bigger car, someone will have a better job, but you won’t run into a friend or school mate and be ashamed of yourself or your achievements.” God bless that man because his words came to pass!
Some friends ask questions about your life, not because they are genuinely concerned for you, rather they want to be sure you are not doing better than them. Sometimes, the silent competition evolves into a cold war which finds people trying to outdo one another, a regular occurrence in the work place, where people employ different tricks to get promoted ahead of their colleagues even it means doing some backstabbing. We forget that each person has their own personal race. Even identical twins won’t tow the same path in life. We are all born differently, uniquely, with different purposes in life, so why should I want to be like my friend when I know nothing about their challenges? And maybe if I knew I would be happy I wasn’t in their shoes. I have learnt (and I am still learning) to wait for my time. You are your only competition, the sooner you realize this, the better for you.