Embrace your competition
MANILA, Philippines - Embrace and competition are words that I’ve never used in the same sentence before. In theory, I would say, “Oh yeah, well competition makes us better!” But you see; the idea of competition is different from the actual person who across you during the test. We like the challenge… but not the competitor.
If you’ve never experienced this before, and you have no problem staring your competition in the face, then God Bless You! You’ve found a great way to hold your peace during intense moments.
But this is for the folks who haven’t found that inner stability and either feel a) really anxious b) angry or c) paralyzed at that moment of showtime.
I remember when I would go to all these model castings, I used to feel really,really nervous. I remember right before walking into the casting room, I would take a detour and go to the bathroom where I would pray and breathe in the bathroom stall.
It’s the typical scene where I say “It’s gonna be ok. It’s gonna be ok.” I wasn’t so much scared about the job. I was just scared of walking into a room of 20 beautiful women and think, “How can I compete with them? They’re so gorgeous!” Then I would start listing why they’re better: “both their thighs combined are equal to one of mine!” (I know…I can’t believe I said this. I think I got really creative at comparing the more I did it. Thankfully, we can all laugh about it now.)
It hit an all-time high when in Singapore, I was sent to the wrong casting (a runway show) and found myself in a room with about 50 6-foot, blond European models. I, the 5’4, dark-haired Eurasian commercial model was lost. My stomach sank and I quickly walked, or practically sprinted, back to the bus.
However, I realized that I couldn’t keep going through these same anxious feelings again and again. I said, “How can I ever progress in my career if I keep repeating the same reactions over and over?”
If you’ve ever stepped into a room during your own "battle" and found yourself freezing up, I feel you.
One of the things I realized was that I kept becoming anxious because my focus was off. I wasn’t focusing on the task at hand which would have been simple. “Go in, audition. Give your best. Leave.” I was focusing on “Go in. Look Around. Compare Yourself. Measure your worth. Feel bad. Perform poorly. Rush out.” These are two very different states of mind.
Walking into a room and immediately comparing yourself with your competitor shifts your focus from what you can control (your performance) to what you can’t control (your competitor.) It just doesn’t apply to a model casting. It could be anything - an advertising pitch, a design competition, or a job interview. If your mind already assumes they are better than you, your physical actions follow, and the result is that you don’t give your best - and this isn’t your competitor’s fault, it’s yours. Your competition isn’t to blame because you made the decision to think those thoughts.
I tried to apply a new approach: to train my brain to just focus on the action steps I could take, because that’s what I could control. I would walk in, audition, give my best, and leave. It was that simple, and I needed to keep it that simple. By focusing on this, I refrained from overthinking. I was so focused on just being in the moment and giving my best, my brain didn’t have time to entertain comparative thoughts.
Another thing I learned is that I needed to embrace competition, to appreciate the competitor. We are all different anyway. It doesn’t make sense to compare things that shouldn’t be compared. When I appreciated my own individuality first, I was able to appreciate the individuality of my competitors.
Going deeper, I began to regard the competition in terms of people I can learn from. I can learn how to improve my own skills. Perhaps this one person is more organized, or more spiritual. How can I learn from this person in a way that can bring out the best in me too?
My ego took a big hit. Actually, my ego screamed and struggled. This action takes a lot of humility because your pride is constantly trying to make you "better" than "the enemy." No one wants to look at someone they are competing for a job with and say, “Oh, he/she’s really good at this.” Why would you? You want the job! You want the award! Why would we even compliment them? If not most, we would rather put them down and give reasons why we are better.
But... looking at the bigger picture (and I too am still working on thinking this way), maybe this person was sent into our lives so we can learn from them? Without them being there as a competitor, we wouldn’t be sharpening our skills for the better. Instead, we would more complacent, and satisfied with just being mediocre.
What if the "enemy" was the key to your progress? Ironic isn’t it?
But what if they are horrible, manipulative, backstabbing people? Well, we don’t obviously want to learn these traits from them. And while we can’t control their ethical behavior, at least we are even more aware of the values we stand for, and focus on that. Let go of how we think they should act (because it’s their journey) and just control your own actions. So we did learn something again, right?
Now, I try to re-adjust my approach to dealing with "the competition." I think embracing the competition isn’t really about making them our bff’s or hating them like our worst enemies, but about giving them the proper respect that every individual deserves, and to stay open-minded about our encounters.
Now, I feel like God put these people in my life to say, “I know you can get insecure. I know that you can get nervous. I know you feel afraid. But no matter what, strive to be the best you can be. And if you meet these people along the way, know that these encounters are ways to learn, grow, and evolve. I love you both.” - Rappler.com
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Victoria Herrera is a TV and event host, model, and writer. In 2011, she released her first book, 'Unscripted,' based on inspiring conversations from her previous radio show. In 2012, she hosted 'Runway TV Asia,' where she interviewed international fashion designers and celebrities. Shuttling between Manila and Singapore, she continues to explore the world of creativity, design, and fashion as a contributor for several publications.
Woman with boxing gloves photo from Shutterstock.