How I've been dealing with competitiveness in law school
I get this question a lot from many prospective and current law students: "How do you handle being in a competitive environment?"
I am not a competitive person by any means at all! In fact, I hated doing team sports when I was younger because other kids' (and parents') competitive nature always got in the way of having fun. On the opposite, I'm always deemed "the nice friend" or "too nice", someone who doesn't fit the stigma of what a law student is.
So lets talk about that stigma. We've all heard it before, a law student is supposed to be sassy, argumentative, contradict everything and anything and isn't supposed to take no for an answer. We're supposed to be the best and be the top of the class. We're supposed to never take no for an answer, be workaholics and make a ton of money, and in the end we're going to have the happiest lives ever.
According to the world, a law student is supposed to be the total opposite of everything that I am as a person. It's a total lie.
First, a competitive environment is not going to go anywhere. Competitiveness has been and always will be around us, from which of you and your siblings gets mom's attention, to who gets voted most popular in high school, to who has the nicest clothes, to who has that latest gaming system. It's everywhere and the truth is, it isn't going anywhere, especially in law school. Some people will have higher grades than you, some people will be faster at writing than you, bottom line, there will be some people who do things better than you, BUT that doesn't mean you don't have any strengths either. Competition fuels some people's energy, and thats okay, but if you find yourself not being okay with this, you need to accept that its there and it exists.
Second you need to see that not everything is as it appears. That person who totally comes off as they know it in class, might not actually have a clue as to what's going on. People exaggerate when they don't feel like they fit in. They talk about their strengths, with the intention of bringing you down about yourself, because they know it makes them look good. It hurts, yes, but the reality is this person is just acting out because they feel the same way as you.
It really comes down to not comparing yourself to other people, and I know its hard. But if you can't stop, you will burn yourself out by doing this. You will focus all of your energy trying to be better than someone, rather than worrying about what is right in front of you. Law students are already burnt out by the amount of work we have, save that extra energy and turn it into something beneficial to you.
For me personally, it's been me coming to this realization that at the end of the day, what I do and what I put into my work affects me and my grade. I can only control myself and nothing around me. So I choose only to worry about myself and not pay attention to the competitiveness. So what if I got a lower quiz grade for you? I made a mistake on question 3, and now I learned from it and I'm moving forward with that knowledge. Having that "me, myself, and I" mindset, is the best thing you can do for yourself mentally. It's not selfish, it's not you being egotistical, it's you doing whats best for you.