Whether we like it or not, life is a competition. It starts out small, though. Who has the best toys? Whose parents let them watch the most TV? Who has the nicest iPhone? Then, it eventually begins to get more serious. Who has the best grades? Who has the nicest clothes? Who has the highest GPA? Who got into the best college? And after a few years, it just gets worse. Who has the best job? Who has the highest salary? Whose kids are the best? Who has the best retirement plan?
The competition of life never ends.
Sometimes, I wish I could take a break from this endless competition so I can just enjoy life. It seems like I spend all my time trying to fulfill my and others' expectations, where I'm constantly focused on success and not noticing the little details that make life beautiful. But then I realize that if I do pause, even for a moment, others will catch up to me. I don't want people to pass me for fear of both shame and failure. So I keep on working, doing whatever it takes to make sure I'm on the top.
I realize that it is only going to get worse from here. After high school are four years of being an undergrad, then four more years of grad school to earn a Ph.D. After those eight years of college, if I want to be even more prosperous, I should go to medical school, law school or even dental school. Of course, after that, I may be done with school, but I then have to find a high-paying and successful job. It's always about success, success, success.
After a time, I may be successful and have my dream job, live in a penthouse on Fifth Avenue, have a loving significant other, own a killer wardrobe and mingle with a wonderful circle of friends. Perfect, right? It's all I've ever wished for and more.
But is this what we really want in life? Years and years of hard work for the ideal life? There would be no time to enjoy life's little things because we're always focusing on those almost unattainable goals and are always trying to get first place in the competition of life.
It's like a catch 22 – we only have one life, so we should enjoy it. We should pause and observe how beautiful everything is. But don't we also want to be successful in life, because we can only enjoy life when we are successful? If we take a break, that means others will catch up and take our coveted jobs or houses or opportunities. And when others do, that means we will fall behind, and we may not be successful. Therefore, we can't enjoy life by pausing, even momentarily. But when we constantly work and work and work, we ultimately do become successful, but at what cost? That we cannot enjoy life because we are so busy.
So, in this competition we call life, there is never a winner.