Genius Chang and the Berenstain Bears: Why Competition and Jealousy Are My Friends

Raise your hand if you had that annoying genius cousin your parents always compared you to. (Oh are you Chinese too?)

Mine is pretty unbeatable:

Name: Genius Chang (not his real name)
Grade Skipped: 1st
Instruments Played: piano, violin, clarinet
# Ivy Leagues Accepted Into: ALL of them

Even I was so impressed that I wanted to marry Genius Chang. Then I grew up and discovered you can't marry your cousin. (At least not in New York.)

Because he was out of my league, I never tried to compete with Genius - except in one thing.

When I was 4, I watched him read an entire book as easy as speaking, then throw the book at me.

"Here, you read." He sauntered off.

But I couldn't.

That night I demanded my parents teach me to read.

Over the Berenstain  Bears HE BEAR, SHE BEAR, my parents helped me turn print into gold.

Women especially shy away from competition: writers blog about the pain of jealousy and extol the virtues of going at our own pace; entrepreneurs advise us to follow our own paths and not be distracted by the success of others. 

Fine - if you're OVERLY focused on others, life gets painful. 

But this mantra of keeping our eyes on our own page also sucks the juice out of what makes us human - that we're social creatures who NEED to see the success of others in order to realize how high we ourselves can go.

Tweet it!  We're social creatures who NEED to see the success of others in order to realize how high we can go. 

If I hadn't been so envious of Genius's ability to conjure stories from squiggles, who knows how long it would have taken me to unlock this world of words I now consider my purpose in life.

If I hadn't been livid at a gal pal's weight loss a few years ago, I wouldn't have finally found the motivation to lose 15 pounds and regain not only my figure but my self-confidence and ability to dance again.

And if I didn't get jealously obsessed of every woman who's making six-figures working part-time from home, I wouldn't keep hustling and improving myself, my vision, and my work.

Don't fear the voice that says, "Damn them, why not me?"  That's exactly what the voice is asking:

"Why not, You?"

And for the record:

Name: Sophia Chang (real name)
Grade Skipped: 12th
Instruments Played: Piano, violin, guitar, mallet percussion, voice

College Genius AND Sophia chose: Harvard

Thank you, Genius Chang, for always giving me something to reach for - and surpass.


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