I read this quote while I was in my last semester at Bucknell and it has stuck with me ever since. I grew up in a high school where competition was everywhere. It is a town where parents brag about their children constantly and where everyone is working hard to “have it all.” This bred a constant competitive energy. Particularly during the SATs and college application process this competitive atmosphere was palpable. Luckily my closest friends and I made a pact not to discuss test scores or colleges we were applying to, instead we just announced whenever we were accepted into a school. Throughout these different experiences, I started to realize that competition was the basis of certain friendships. It took me time to realize how toxic these friendships were, I legitimately had a friend try to convince me to join her activities (which required specific skills that she excelled at) so she had another way to beat me (pretty twisted right?!). Although these competitive friendships are ones that I look back on and cringe, those relationships made me that much stronger. Growing up I always worked incredibly hard to achieve my goals, both big and small. I was never one of those people who could get away with not studying and somehow always manage an A+ on a test. I understood quickly that in order to achieve my goals I would have to work for them, which is a trait and understanding I have become more and more thankful for over the years. This inner drive made me that much stronger at college.
When I got to Bucknell I was surrounded by star athletes, academically gifted students, and extra curricular mavens. Everyone was the class president, star athlete, and brains in high school, so in a way I think the competition shifted at college. My school was made up of work hard/play hard types, but we all worked hard at our own goals. Each student I met or friend I made had his or her own passions, but it did not have the same competitive feel. Instead each one of us was working towards our own plans. It was refreshing to be surrounded by such driven people, minus the competition. My closest friends have a variety of goals, one wants to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, another wants to be a university dean, and the third wants to help people through nutrition education. To this day I am thankful to have such an amazing support system, one that does not compete but instead supports.
Over the years I have also come to realize (through the helpful outside observations of my family members) that I am the hardest on myself. I hold myself to high standards and expect a lot out of myself, which can be beneficial in a lot of ways but which also needs a reality check now and again. Similar to the flowers, I am focusing on my own aspirations and working to keep on blooming! I don’t get caught up in competition with others, because ultimately at the end of the day it is about my dreams, no one elses. Luckily, I am surrounded by people who inspire me with their inner drive and also support my goals. Throughout college and now as a post grad I have put all my energy into my own goals, this blog included! I know that there will always be someone better or faster at achieving what they want, but that is a part of life. Instead of focusing on the one-uppers and endless competition with others I am taking a note from the flowers and focusing on my own bloom.