Competitiveness: The great game of being happy

At the start of this year, I was really miserable. I would hesitate to say depressed because I don’t want to make light of the suffering of those who really do have depression, but I’ve also heard that it’s very common among teens so maybe I really was ever so slightly depressed, I don’t know. Anyway, now I’m a lot better – not perfect and still very prone to unhappiness and anger and irrational emotions, but better than before, and less sad

I hated being sad because it’s such a passive seeming emotion. Anger is interesting and passionate and harsh and bright and overwhelming, but sadness is just an all-permeating pallor of emotion that sucks joy from all kinds of happy things. 

With that in mind, I’ve decided to just stop, as much as I can, indulging in self-pity and my relentless belief that I’m somehow, for some reason, not going to be happy ever again. I mean – it’s honestly just ridiculous. 

I think a lot of it is to do with perfectionism, though I’m not entirely sure why I’m such a perfectionist. Those are musings for another day. The point is, no matter how much I can do, I always feel lesser than others because they can do something else, or they can do the same things better. It’s awful that our society helps strengthen these ideas of mine, but it’s also the way things are, so if I want to not be unhappy all the time I guess I’ll have to just feel great all by myself.

Technically speaking I have a lot of things to make myself feel happy – considering that I’m still a school student I’m really very successful, so far as that can be measured when you don’t have a career or any real option of a career. I’ve had more varied experiences than most people my age, I do well at school, I have interests outside of school and I have friends even if I’m not popular or even well-known. Hell, I live by the beach now so I even have that advantage over some people. 

It’s just that I also have those horrible feelings of a lack of self-worth and I cringe at the thought of doing anything outside of school, because I’d have to wear something other than uniform and that might make people judge me. Bit foolish, I know, but I’m working on it. 

Plus, I know that everyone feels the same way. Maybe not in exactly the same sense – after all, everyone’s different and we’ve all got different experiences. But as I quietly stalk people’s ask.fm accounts or watch my friends tweeting, it becomes hugely, deeply obvious that no one feels completely happy. Everyone has issues. Nobody shares them with everyone. Everyone wants to be special and unique and different and yet also the same, so they fit in and are loved. 

People fish for compliments, ever so blatantly, and smother their peers with false exuberance. They feel sad and lonely and want to know they’re not always going to feel like this. They’re slowly figuring out how to have real relationships with other people – romantic and otherwise. Often I can’t help but smile at their ham-handed attempts, because I feel proud that I’ve navigated that particular obstacle just a little bit more adeptly.

It might not be the best way to live a happy life, and in fact I know I’ll have to revise it quite soon to actually be happy, but for the time being I have a simple method. It’s tapping into my natural competitiveness to force myself to succeed, to be happy, to not worry, to not care, just so that I’m different. Just so that I’m the best. So that I can win. To quietly see people being upset about not being pretty enough and to use that as fuel to stop myself from thinking the same thing – “Do you really want to be just like everyone else, Klementine? Or do you want to be better than them?”

 

As I said, eventually I’ll need to stop doing, so that I can appreciate people more and not resent those who have things I don’t. But right now, it’s enough to feel that little bit more secure in myself, because I feel ‘better’. 

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