A few weeks ago I was out with some friends having a meal and I don't know how we got into talking about it but we were discussing being competitive when we were in our degrees. Absolutely all credit for the idea of this post goes to April (OH HEY!) because it was her and I who were saying we were competitive and we were absolutely unashamed of that.
So a bit of background for you here, we went on our Foundation course together in different disciplines and then both went on creative degrees in different universities here in Wales. We both got the best marks in our degrees out of our courses (she got a first, I got a 2:1 FYI), she won competitions, I won competitions and we were both unashamedly trying to be the best.
We were talking about being competitive and how we were fine with it and it transpires maybe not everybody feels the same. And it got me thinking.
I wrote this post way back when last Summer about how to get over bragging about yourself and this post I spose is kinda on the same vein.
We're in a competitive industry, we're in creative jobs, we have both worked freelance and run our own businesses and frankly, you have to have a competitive streak in you to make a success of it. Running your own business means you need a thicker skin than everyone else, you need to be disciplined, you need to be convinced you're the best and you're worth it and then you need to convince everyone else of the same.
We discussed how competitive we were in university. How people would ask how to do things and we'd be like 'bitch it took me 2 weeks to work out how to do it/where to source that/why we need to do this, work it out on your own'. It's an element of being competitive and it's an element of working hard and not wanting to hand out the information as a freebie to someone who can't be arsed to work as hard.
We were both in very small classes (there were 7 on my entire course) and that I think only drives you further to be streets ahead. When it's a small class you can assess everyone, work out who your competition is, who you don't need to worry about and how you're going to establish your title as top dog. Or class swot, whatever you want to call it.
In university I was in a tiny class of quite shy quiet people and suddenly, quiet shy me found myself as one of the most vocal and confident, just in comparison and this quickly turned into my actually being a bit ballsy and confident. Fake it till you make it and all that kinda thing. At the end of my first year my tutors told me to find some competition. I was ahead of my classmates, not more talented but just more aware of the academic side of it and how 'the game was played' in a creative industry degree. My tutors told me to find some competition, to chose a classmate and build them up to be on the same level as me, and then to attempt to beat them. So I did. Hi Jonny if you're reading. Luckily for me I chose one of my best friends as my competition so I was genuinely happy to help him when he needed help (I consider myself a 50% contributor to his degree, simply from printing alone) and I was genuinely thrilled for him when he got his degree.
I've spoken about this before both on the blog and since graduating with my friends but it was no secret I was trying to beat everyone. There was an ongoing joke about how many files I'd bring to an assessment (my record was my 20 to someone else's 4) and the "how much work did you do this weekend" and then ignore me when I said oh not much. Because it was much.
And speaking to April the other week kinda affirmed that that mentality isn't insane. And it isn't a bad thing either. Maybe this post comes across that we're massive bitches and a bit sneaky and maybe we're the people you hated in your own degree but at the end of the day it was hard work and our competitive streak that got us the highest degree marks in our respective categories. And yes, I am hideously proud of the fact she got a First but also hideously jel I didn't too. It's a competition to be the best ya know.
You can be competitive without being a dick. A desire to be the best, a desire to do well, to get a grade you think you deserve, to make sure you are rewarded with a higher grade than someone that works half as hard as you do...none of those things are bad - they're healthy competition and they got us where we wanted to be.