I’m not a competitive person. I try not to be a competitive person. I’d like to think of myself as a carefree, hippie-esque wanderer. But I have a fire in me that has pushed down urges to be easy-going.
My mom would tell you that I was a quiet baby. I hardly cried; I just peered at the world from my stroller. I made happy noises when I ate. Something shifted within me and suddenly I was an angry, spiteful girl at the age of 10. Maybe it was years of knowing I didn’t quite fit in. Maybe I was sick of people thinking I was the nice girl that they could walk all over. I was smart, shy Kelsey who gave the homework answers to the boys I hopelessly had crushes on. Quite frankly, I was fed up with it.
Suddenly, I stood up for myself. I started screaming back when I was screamed at. I wanted to win. I wanted win at the human contest. I wanted to figure everyone out and know their every move before they know themselves. That way, they couldn’t hurt me. My competitiveness wasn’t really funneled into schoolwork. I knew I was a smart girl and I did well in school. I could have been at the top of my class if I pushed myself, but what was the point? It was more fulfilling to me to win the human contest than any academic contest.
My senior year of high school, I was plopped into a group that I didn’t really belong in. Every year I changed friend groups because of my complacent nature. This group was filled with girls that had perfect GPAs and every extracurricular under the sun. Knitting sweaters for homeless cats? Check. Shoe shining for impoverished MILFs? Check. I was a girl with a good GPA and some volunteering experience. I knew I was headed to a state school due to my financial situation while they were reaching for the Ivy League.
Some of them tried so hard to make me feel dumb with some numbers and ranks that turned out to be faulty anyway. I never let it phase me because I was just as intelligent as some of them. They were all in competition with each other for the top ten ranking. They schemed behind each other’s backs and challenged each other on every intellectual level. I wasn’t even sure what they were fighting for anymore. The girls were so miserable, caught up in every small drama. They didn’t know how to have fun and make meaningful human connections. I always told them that this ranking they were pinned against each other for was actually ridiculous. I screamed down the hallway at them that I was ranked number 80 and I didn’t care. Of course, a crush of mine walked past me at that exact moment.
While they were competing amongst each other, I was figuring out their personal weaknesses. It’s a game I like to play. I figure people out just so if one day they decide to cross me, I have personal ammunition. I don’t like to use it often, but I’ve had to before. I thought I was far superior to them. Winning wasn’t a concern to me; I was above that. I couldn’t possibly be that competitive and dramatic. Oh, but I was and I still continue to be that way. I was a hypocrite. I was in my own secret competition with them all. It was one that did not involve rankings and GPAs; it involved my “superior” understanding of mental health and personalities.
Today, I still figure people out. I read some like books. Now, I mainly figure people out in order to relate to them better. I like to think I use my powers for good, most of the time. I’m less concerned about winning now, but I still care about it in certain ways. The human game is a hard one to win. I may be losing by just being so concerned about winning.