Score the internship. Land the job. Earn a ton of money. Afford the house. That car. No, the bigger one. Which one? House? Car? Both!
The rat race: a competition with your peers in life – for life. What prize lies at the finish line?
The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.
– Lily Tomlin
I felt lost the first time I searched for an internship. My college mates and I were in a frenzy, trying to clinch a summer attachment somewhere to boost our resumes and stand out from the crowd. Unlike plenty of my peers, I didn’t have prior experience or exceptional talent in the field I was applying to. How could I? I was attempting to enter so many different ones.
I was familiar with this particular sensation of being adrift. It had followed me since the first weeks of university. The course I chose to pursue, I chose purely out of interest. I had no prior knowledge of it, but why would that matter? There would be ample opportunity to learn when school started.
With the intrigue of throwing myself into the deep end, came the steep learning curve. Some of my struggles weren’t even an issue for some of my batch mates. A breeze for them was an uphill climb against gale-force winds for me. I felt a tad defeated and concerned that I was falling behind the rest of my peers.
As weeks of internship hunting passed and the rejection emails began piling up, I began to feel demoralised. My peers were advancing through the interview stages and receiving offers, while I was stuck in first gear. Was I not good enough?
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
– Albert Einstein
I was about to call it quits, when my lucky break came. I was invited to an interview for my current role. The biggest surprise for me at this internship is the feeling of actually liking some of what I do. I had spent so much time over the years worrying about matching up to my contemporaries that I’d completely forgotten to properly assess if I actually enjoyed doing the things I do. The fact that this feeling was pleasant yet unfamiliar was a sobering thought.
I’ve subjected myself to what felt like an endless cycle of turmoil and self-doubt because my eyes were only on outstripping my competitors. Were they even aware that they were competing with me? The next steps I take to improve my employability will lead to self-improvement, not low self-esteem. I will turn my focus inwards, and stop fixating on winning non-existent battles. No more rat race – just a self-determined sprint to the pinnacle of my best self.