When competition is inevitable
Whether it means getting into the best college, having the best wardrobe in school, winning an Olympic gold medal or being the favorite child in the household, competition is prevalent in the lives of kids. Grade 10 students from Yew Chung International School took a time out with beijingkids to share their views on competition in family life and academics, where the pressure comes from and how gender factors into the picture.
Benjamin Lou is from Australia has spent 11 years in Beijing
Chris Han is from the UK. This is his fifth year in Beijing
Helen Leung is from Australia/Hong Kong and has been in Beijing for three years
Julia Chu is from Canada and this is her second year in Beijing
Do you feel pressure to be competitive?
Chris: I feel it in official competitions like running races or matches, where you can compare your results with other people’s.
Ben: There’s also competing with yourself.
Julia: I think competition is everywhere, and I think it’s a good thing that we start now. It exists in the most primitive aspects of life. I think it’s good to accept it and let it be.
Helen: Even if you try to ignore it, it’s always there. If you compete and win, it’s good. It motivates you.
Where do you feel the pressure to be competitive?
Helen: I think it’s from everywhere, but mostly the media. Parents try not to compare siblings. My parents hate it when the teachers compare us, but our parents see us as individual people.
Ben: I think it depends on what type of person you are. If you consider yourself good at one particular aspect, you will feel more competitive in that area.
Julia: Even if you aren’t the competitive type, you still feel pressure to keep up. It affects you. You aren’t asking for it, but it comes.
Do you think there’s more competition here or in your home country?
Helen: Definitely back home. In terms of academics, they use results from tests and rank you. You actually have a number. But here you just get grades.
Julia: In Canada, we’re really relaxed about grades. They follow a much easier educational system. We focus more on sports and other aspects.
Chris: In England, it’s more relaxed, and there’s a big emphasis on extracurricular activities, like sports. It also depends on what type of school you attend – there are really posh schools where the students have to be more academically-focused.
Ben: I don’t have much experience, but I think that Australia is similar to the UK.
How important is winning to you?
Julia: If it’s a formal competition or a soccer match you’ve been training to win, you want to win.
Helen: I like the competitive process more than the winning. I like the competitive vibe.
Chris: Everyone says, “It’s the process that counts,” but I think it feels pretty good to win. It feels much better than losing.
What about in social situations?
Chris: At things like being cool, I don’t really care. I’m a total failure.
Helen: You can’t do much about it, so it doesn’t matter. Even if you care about it, if you try too hard, it’s bad.
Julia: If you want to divide it into cliques like the nerds and jocks, the jocks compete in sports and the nerds compete in grades, so it doesn’t really mix.
Helen: You only compete at what you’re good at. It’s easier to win.
Do you think there is a difference between girls and boys when it comes to competition?
Helen: I don’t think guys are that competitive, or maybe they just don’t show it.
Julia: No – they are, passive-aggressively.
Chris: I think it depends on what type of girl. Girls who do well and get better results that others are very competitive – more than boys.
Ben: Girls compare more; comparing and competing are different. I think boys are more competitive, but girls tend to compare results more.
Julia: I have a friend who is ultra-feminist, and she’s out to beat all the guys. It’s revenge for history.