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At the End of Your Rope

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At the End of Your Rope

Karina Popowycz

Karina Popowycz

Karina Popowycz

Nina Cinca, Editor-in-Chief

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Life is a constant competition. We compete at everything we do and the vicious cycle is never-ending. Teenagers compete against one another to get into college, athletes compete against rivalry teams to win the championship, students compete against each other to win the title of valedictorian in high school, adults compete with many for job positions, siblings compete to be the favorite child, significant others compete for a reassurance of unconditional love, and honestly, this list is never-ending.

The teen years seem to be the most difficult time in one’s life and appear to be the most stressful. Immense amounts of pressure are put on a student for many different reasons. There’s the idea that you have to live up to certain standards and always be this perfect person all the time, which turns out to be an unrealistic expectation. While they’re just trying to do well in school, keep healthy relationships with the people in their lives, and maintain a well-balanced life in general, many of these aspects of their lives are strained due to the idea that they’re always competing against one another.

“Testing makes me really nervous and stressed because a lot of the time, I’ll feel like I’ll know what I need, but the pressure of getting a good grade makes me confuse my information and make stupid mistakes or forget things,” said junior Lauren Porter.

Unfortunately, many students feel this way and view most school-related things in this perspective. It’s a competition on who got the best grade on a test, or who is the teacher’s pet, and even who can get away with certain things at school compared to everyone else. Seniors especially, are constantly pitted against one another and not necessarily on purpose. They ‘fight to the death’, or at least what seems like it, on who’s going to get into what college and how far along everyone is compared to each other in the whole application process. 

“When doing all the college application stuff you’re on a deadline, so you always wanna be ahead of everyone else so you’re less stressed out and know that you’ve done it to the best of your ability. When talking to someone about college applications it stresses you out, but makes you want to focus on it more, so it’s both a good and bad thing,” said senior Davis Bell.

Once applications are over, the fun stuff arrives. The typical high school experience consists of the exciting dances: homecoming, prom, and sometimes a winter formal. Although these dances are made for students to have a night of fun, there’s also an underlying tone of competition implied. Students vote for homecoming court nominees in each grade and only one of them goes on to win the crown. The whole thing is a few students competing against each other on who can best win the school’s vote to make them queen. 

“I don’t like the whole concept of picking the most likable girl because I think everybody is beautiful and smart in their own ways around the right people. I think it’s a little better now since the girls get to make videos,” said senior Hanya Irfan.

To some, not winning is a letdown and can ultimately decrease one’s self-esteem. Sometimes extreme competition can be detrimental, but a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. 

In drama class or sports games, it’s a daily competition. You compete to get a certain role in a play or compete against other teams and players to hopefully win the game. These activities are certainly made for some good-natured competition and are both disappointing, and a great learning experience. It teaches people how to handle a loss in a dignified way, and that not everything is always about winning. 

“From the experience of losing regional semi-finals last year, I learned to take this upcoming senior season to cherish all the little memories, and also to do everything I possibly can to make this season last as long as possible,” said Bell.

Beyond the competition in school, people find themselves battling for positions. For example, searching for a successful job. Positives of a job interview include learning how to properly talk to someone who controls your fate, and teaches you what to do and what not to do for future opportunities as well. The competition is fierce when it comes to job offerings and isn’t taken lightly.

And it doesn’t stop there. For some, a large part of their life is spent trying to win over someone’s love. Scoring the love of your parents, a crush in middle school, your first love in high school, an ex from college, or even your significant other who will be your partner for life. 

Everyone yearns for the idea of unconditional love, but unfortunately feels the need to compete for it or even need to be reassured that they are loved. A child wants to know that their mother or father loves them for sure, but not any less than their sister or brother, while a girlfriend wants to know that their boyfriend only has ‘eyes for her’ and not any other girl out there. Everyone just wants to be loved unconditionally, despite the unfortunate reality that most of our relationships have conditions.

Despite this idea of constantly competing with one another at everything we do, it can also seem to bring people closer. 

By consistently feeling on edge, or feeling intense amounts of pressure all the time, it shows you who will be by your side through thick and thin. Your true friends will shine through when it’s obvious they are happy for you and not struck by jealousy. 

Competition is never-ending, but having the confidence, compassion, and a confidant by your side will make everything seem a little less grueling.

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