To be honest, I may be too competitive for my own good. I’m not talking about racing people so that I am first in line in the cafeteria, nor am I thinking of anything athletic because I know that I would lose.
Competition has been a driving force for me in the classroom. I live on the thrill of being right and of knowing that my professor knows that I have studied what I needed to. When I picture myself in class, I don’t picture myself stomping on my classmates so that I can climb past them. I don’t prepare for class so that I can smash my peers into pulp. I do know that I would much prefer to be the most prepared person in a classroom than the least prepared.
So the issue at hand really is this: why can’t I apply how I approach my competition in the classroom (you know, when I said that I didn’t want to put anyone down in my pursuit of being right?) to how competitive I feel about and around other women.
I don’t want you, reader, to picture the scene from “Mean Girls” when Lindsey Lohan imagines the cafeteria as a watering hole. Instead, imagine something less physical and more similar to the gossipy, bitchy, never voiced internal dialogue of the meanest girl in your high school.
Instead of lunging over tables, I find myself not hesitating to put a woman down because of something trivial. Maybe s1he happens to be speaking to a boy I like, maybe she happens to be wearing something that I don’t like, maybe I’ve literally never met her. It doesn’t matter because I find myself having a gut reaction that I am not too proud of.
We can have a long conversation about how women are or are not conditioned by patriarchal systems to fight each other for the attention of “A Man.” We can talk about how that is heteronormative and not good for the women or men expected to be involved; and, it just wouldn’t get us very far into how I am able to recognize that my behavior is bad and hurtful or why I haven’t changed it.
I think that it is still this way because no one can check my inner thoughts the way my friends can tell me when I’m being “too” “dramatic.” I think it is this way that because I am the only one who can chastise me, who can stop and remind me of how wrong my behavior is. Because who wants to be lectured by the one person who should always be on your side, that is, your inner voice?
At the end of the day, I know who is responsible for fixing my behavior, for checking myself, for stopping those thoughts. At the end of the day, I have to be responsible for what I say, what I do and, just as importantly, what I think.