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There’s an upside of growing up in a predominately female household for a girl.  My father was the only male, while my three sisters, an aunt, my mother and myself dominated.  The upside is that at a young age I could battle all of my feelings of insecurity.  My sisters and I were constantly being compared to each other by family members, classmates, teachers and friends.  There were always comments of:  “Well [insert sister name here] is better [insert character trait that you’re lacking].  What happened with you?”  After a while and many failed attempts to try to become like your siblings you learn that you can only be yourself and you learn to embrace it.  You stop trying to be better than them, and you begin to try to be a better you, or that’s how it was for me.

It’s always a little awkward when you find out that someone is competing against you when you’re not in an actual competition.  Competition can be a good thing, and very healthy.  It can increase your drive and make you want to be a better person.  However, it concerns me when I find out that people are competing against me over something completely insignificant.

I remember my very first time having this realization.

I was in first grade and I had just moved from Alabama and was living in East St. Louis.  People are interested in “new” things, and that was true for me when I first started attending my elementary school.  I don’t know if other kids did this, but we had this thing called “Play Mamas.”  Where an older girl would kind of “adopt” you and get you things, like candy, toys, and if you had a problem with someone else, you tell your “Play Mama” and she’ll handle it for you.

Before East St. Louis I had never heard of such a thing, so when a girl came up to me and asked me to be her play daughter she had to explain to me to just accept the invitation because it was an honor.  Being the young people pleaser that I was, I accepted.  I also accepted the six other invitations from other random older girls.  My role was to allow them to play in my hair and buy me candy, so I did that.

It wasn’t until a month or two later that a saw a girl in my class crying.  I went over to her to see what was wrong and she told me she was certain that after getting her new braids and outfit that she would have more “Play Mamas” than me, but she didn’t and she was mad.  I was caught off guard, because, what did I have to do with the number of “Play Mamas” you had?  But after my “Play Mamas” realized that I was cheating on them (I didn’t know you could only have one), they dumped me.  A week or two after I remember girls bragging to me about their superiority of keeping the older girls happy over me.  Way to stay classy, first graders.

This type of behavior is expected in children, but it persisted in high school over the dumbest things.  Everything was a competition.  Who could get to class faster, who had the smallest waist, and who would guys like better when they got their weave.  The thing was, I was always caught off guard whenever someone brought it to my attention that they were competing with me, or couldn’t wait until someone else beat me in this unknown competition.  I even lost friendships when I won a competition I didn’t realize I was in.

I realized then that this type of competition could be a scary thing.  Now, don’t think that I don’t suffer from it too occasionally.  I think everyone has at one point of time, saw something that someone possessed, and as childish as it was, wanted to win out over them, even if they don’t know who you are.  I’m not opposed to competing with people, but I more so compete with myself.  I want to do better for me.

The thing is, there will always be someone more pretty, smarter, or more successful than you, and comparing yourself to them is only going to make you more insecure about your own potential greatness.  Try to make yourself better, but also be aware that people will try to compete with you, no matter if you expect them to or not.  But as long as you’re being the best you that you can be, then don’t let it bother you.

Kendra Koger has gotten rid of her Play Mama philandering ways and got herself on twitter @kkoger.

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