Competition? What Competition?
I come from Rugby which while isn’t quite a village, is a sleepy town compared to London. Competition isn’t in the vocab unless you’re buying a lottery ticket or looking to pull at the weekend. Or of course unless you’re at school sitting exams. But really there isn’t a primal hunger in the air which is palpable as soon as you hit the city. Even just getting onto a packed tube in the mornings can feel like a competition. Who can get into the Pret line first, even? I’ve not spotted much ‘after you’ going down when getting on the bus, either.
There’s a distinct feeling of who can make it first. Naturally at SCA, the instinct to compete hit me, almost immediately. How can I win the briefs each week? How can I win those coveted points that will spare my budget of a few biros and notepads every month? And ultimately, a pencil… what must I do to ensure I can touch one next year. A bit of healthy competition’s alright isn’t it? Gets the blood pumping, something to focus on and all that.
I would have thought, until I realised the extent of my head-throbbing perfectionism. Who’d have known that wanting everything to be spot on and prize-winning worthy could also devour so much joy and spontaneity? Of course I would take the concept of healthy competition too far into unhelpful competition. I like to go all in with everything after all, maybe sometimes a bit too far in. Straining for a win is not the one, especially when it removes all colour from what is to be a playful first few months at the school (well really, playfulness all the time).
Did stressing to win a brief actually win me any briefs in this time? No. After a chat with my group head Caroline over the distress of ‘losing’ every week I was told to try shutting it all out and remaining non-attached to the outcomes. I’ve done some time in retreats to know what this means, attachment is the root of all suffering so they say. And here I was, ignoring basic wisdom passed down from many a spiritual master. But really, just block it all out? What about the points? What about the inflation of my own ego? I’d reached a stage where I was willing to give dropping all of these dreams a go. After all, I wasn’t finding my version of competition fun whatsoever.
It took and still takes daily, sometimes hourly, reminding to chill out but I had one of my best weeks yet recently. By some wizardry, I was able to play and conceptualise and vomit all my ideas out and not feel impending doom. As a result things flowed, and while I happened not to sleep much that week due to extra curricular beers, the following days continued to flow. Now the work produced that week didn’t receive any points but it got some good, solid feedback and that’s a win in my books.