The SheHawk: A Brief Guide to Sanity for the Young and Competitive


Genevieve Guenther

Jimmy O’Halloran, Contributing Writer

It’s safe to say that most people want to do their best. Actually, most people probably want to do better than just their best: they want to do better than everyone else’s best. This rings especially true on a college campus, where in pretty much every capacity the point is to compete – and win. I mean, we are quite literally competing against everyone. We all have a grade point average, and while this is of course not the most important metric at all, it’s still out there.

So, even when you do everything you can, how can one feel confident when there’s always a peer with a better GPA, a better internship, and a seemingly more glamorous life?

First, start with rewiring your inner critic. This can be difficult. For many, their inner critic is what drives them to do better and achieve more. This inner critic invokes a mindset of needing to strive forward purely because of the fear of failure and falling behind. According to Psychology Today, people who have great successes can still not “feel like it’s genuine.” With this, it can be hard to relax. It feels like one has to take on more and more to reduce to possibility of failure, and with failure comes shame, which is the driving force behind this mindset.

Combating this mindset starts with using the technique of self-distancing, Psychology Today says. This involves replacing the pronoun I, with a he/she/they, for example. This allows one to rewrite the story of events from a perspective of one other than just the inner critic. This can help see events from an outside perspective and allows one’s own actions to be seen without a critic’s lens.

Another way to distance yourself from the constant pressure of competition is to put your phone away from time to time. WebMD says that “relying on cell phones to relieve anxiety may end up undercutting the development of more effective coping skills”. When things don’t go right, it will be more effective in the long run to turn to a healthy coping mechanism. Do this even when it seems like endlessly scrolling will be more comforting. If the real issue at hand isn’t worked through in a healthy way, it’s more likely to return.

Finally, keep your life manageable by learning how to say “no”. Psychology Today points to a few reasons why it may be hard to simply say “no” to even the smallest things. These include fearing conflict, not wanting to disappoint people and also conforming for the sake of social acceptance. They even say that it might be harder for women to say no for reasons such as wanting to just get along or the ingrained belief that women should maintain an air of “niceness”.

The key here is knowing that saying “no” can actually strengthen relationships and confidence instead of showing weakness. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Even more than just in your personal life, refusing things can help with academic and career happiness. Sometimes, not every opportunity that falls into your lap is right for you. It may not be something you’re actually interested in.

So say no. Don’t take an opportunity out of fear of falling behind. If you’re not passionate about that internship, don’t take it. If you don’t have the time to take on more responsibility, then don’t. Putting energy into things that are relevant to your goals and enhance your sense of purpose is much more valuable than competing for competition’s sake.