Understanding What Makes Up Our Identities
In my previous post we talked about stereotypes and the way the affect our identity. Having faced stereotypes in many places, I find that one of the most important places for me was when competing. I consider this to be any activity where you find yourself working opposite another person or group toward the same goal. Whether that setting is academic, professional, social or a sport doesn’t matter.
Most people tend to gauge their competitiveness on the situation. What incentive awaits the winner is the main determiner of this scale. For myself, it was going up against those who had a wealth of both opportunity and ego. For instance, knowing that you’re good at something is a confidence booster; knowing you are good at something and have every means to do whatever you want with that skill is a privilege. The way you accept this fact determines the type of person you are, but I will categorize them into two groups for convenience: humble and grateful, or expectant and entitled.
It means more to me to win against someone who needs to learn a lesson in humility than to win any other incentive – even if that incentive is an opportunity I lack. If someone makes me feel bad about myself, for any period of time, I’ll be damned if I don’t make an effort to keep their inflated ego from hurting someone else. I resonate with any and every underdog, it’s the only way I enjoy competition (even if I’m not the underdog).
But everyone finds different reasons to compete and aim to win. For one, winning feels good, you get all the positive hormones that you need to feel great about yourself. For two, most of the time the incentive is something you want to a strong degree. For three, because sometimes your opponent needs to learn a lesson. Everyone competes for a reason, there’s a part of you that drives that side of your identity. It can develop and change over time because priorities shift, grow and even resurface as your life goes on. Conducting yourself respectfully is important in any competition. Knowing why you’re competing is just as important.