Colleges and college students often raise the topic of competition as a natural selection method for determining the best and brightest in a class. Coming from high school and playing sports, I have always bought into this idea of competition. May the best man win has wormed its way into my mindset and perspective towards academics and life. But I have found during my time at USC that competition is as deadly as it is effective.
When you compete, you are focused on the goal, the objective, and winning the award. The emphasis is placed on how you rank among the winners and losers spectrum. While the lure of winning easily draws people in, it also blinds them to the context and relevancy of competition mechanics. The need for a trophy or recognition replaces the joy of learning and understanding. I have seen so many bright minds fall prey to following previous students’ trajectories that they lose sight of themselves and their individual ambitions. It is one thing to come a long way, but another if you go the wrong way.
So here is my advice. Make sure that what you are competing for is right for you. Do not be swayed by lack of a pre-determined path. Seek out things you are passionate about and if they do not exist, create it. You have one wild and precious life. How will you live it?