Photo from the Squamish Easter Seals Camp
Earlier today I was reflecting on my experiences at McGill University and remembered what it had felt like to swim with sharks. Getting my M.A. was not an easy experience. I was surrounded by people who were competitive, arrogant, and believed they were “the best in Canada”. My resume and endeavors were discussed at every social meeting be it a seminar group or dinner party. There were competitive jabs in all conversation be it a discussion of scholarship or an aside on what was the best new eye color at M.A.C.
At the low point I worked for a Prof who specialized in school bullying and tried to bully me to work without pay. However, from the experience I gained self confidence in my intellectual ability and the strength to stand up for myself in any verbal confrontation.
This leads me to consider the nature of competition and why people are so mean spirited and competitive to begin with. Can the spotlight no shine on more then one person? Can there not be more then one success or winner? Can we be more accepting and not compare ourselves against others? Who is to say what being successful or happy is? Can we not find our own definition of success or happiness?
However, I will admit to being competitive and yes I am a Type-A personality. There are many benefits in attempting to maximize your abilities and go after a personal goal. Moreover, for what its worth I get a complete adrenaline rush in going after something and getting a job well done. Over the years some have called me a workaholic and in some cases I have been. Sometimes it can be very exciting and other times it can be very stressful but hey we all find fulfillment in different ways.
What I don’t like is when I come across the mean spirited comparative types who believe that in order to be successful they must conquer and be cruel. That is not necessary. There can be more then one good employee for the team. There can be more then one good photographer at the job. There is no need to put down others if you are feeling insecure.
A key element in my personality and philosophy of teaching is in encouraging and nurturing the talents of others. Life is tough. It means a lot to hear some words of encouragement from a mentor. Finding the right mentor has been crucial to my success and I believe in returning the same good feelings to others.