Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Talk - Does competition extend to Friends?

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"I better pass my neighbour" is a phrase people in Nigeria use to refer to mobile generators as a way of saying, "I can afford it while my neighbours can't". In other words, they're happy they've kept up and even overtaken the Jones or the Okekes. I know we all have competitive streaks in that sense, but does it extend to friends? Do we deliberately keep friends that we're better than? In our talk and debate, I want us to consider the following questions.

1. Are all your friends married while you're single? Are you the only married one?
2. Are they more intelligent, for instance have more degrees? Or is that you?
3. Are they all slimmer than you? Are you the only Lepa?
4. Are they all more accomplished in their business or career? Or are you?
5. Are they all more well to do? Or are you the generous donor?
6. Are they all more popular than you? Are you the prettiest, tallest, most bubbling?

I know we cannot dictate our friendships and that it's a two-way thing, so while you're trying to make a friend, the other person may be pulling away. But it would be good if our circle of friends are mixed up because unbalanced friendships can sometimes become unhealthy - Frenemies, anyone? So if you're good in this, your friend is good in the other thing, and you both accept your strengths and weaknesses and try to minimize competition. As for me, I am a work in progress. :)


  1. lol @ keeping up with the Okekes. I think a lil jealousy is part of our competitive nature so as long as no one is being malicious its cool. If the friends that better pass u looks down on you or if u wey no better pass cant allow d better pass friend enjoy their success by making them feel guilty all the time then time to change friends. we shuld be able to be happy for ourselves.

  2. gbam!! balance is the key to everything...

  3. Mehnnn.. this is serious o. I don't think I have ever befriended someone because I think I am better than them. I have heard of girls who intentionally go partying with "ugly" girls so they can be the talk of the party.

  4. It is a serious matter o!

    I believe friendship should be more than the "I am better than you"; "I'm married and you are not" or "I have this and you don't" syndrome.

    If there must be any form of competition in any friendship, I believe it should be a healthy one. such that would ginger the slacking friend to "wake up" (maybe academically) There should be no "envious" competition in true friendship.

  5. After a scary incidence a while ago, i resorted to consciously selecting my friends. While I have quite a few acquintances, i pursue friendship with only a few people - those I have studied and I know would understand the 50 -50 theory.

    For me, 50-50 means you dont need me more than I need you hence our relationship is mutually beneficial. I am not a local champion neither are you. We have our strenghts and weakness, we both know them and we're of help to each other when the need arises. This way, unhealthy rivalry doesnt set in.

  6. My friends are a mixed bunch.
    Re: your questions
    1. Marriage: My friends are approx 70% married and 30% single
    2. Intelligence: Again, very mixed. However, 90% are graduates
    3. Slimlness: Mixed. 'Lepa' and my name cannot be used in the same sentence. LOL
    4. Accomplishment: Very, very mixed and I like that because we motivate each other.
    5. Wealth.....Again, varied - from struggling unemployed to wealthy.
    6. Popularity: this varies depending on who has achieved something phenomenal at any given time.

  7. Balance is indeed the key - in the words of Dammy. I've long taken the advice of one of my mentors when he said, "move with those who are lower (you're better than) you so you can help them up; Likewise, move with those higher (better) than you, so they can help you up.

    While most of my friends are those older than I am, I do not fail to move with people I can impart to or impact on too... Balance is indeed, the key.

    - LDP

  8. After these many years on earth, i cant be bothered about trying to make new friends.

    I've got a few very good friends in my coffers, & we're well above average.

    Some are book smarter, as they are less street smart. Some have zero fashion sense. Some are just lazy while some are bursting at the seams with hyperactivity.

    We don't measure against each other socially, morally, financially or otherwise, we balance each other naturally.

    We are friends simply because we can be friends

  9. I think as long as there's a desire for achievement of fulfillment in life, competition naturally kicks in. What crushes is when we get malicious. I personally never hold on to anything too tightly, and I try to get over myself, so to say. After all its not all about me.

    I have two other cousins who i share birthday month with, we practically grew up together. Both have been married for a while now, with children. I'm single, still trying to find my way. As much as I sometimes 'wish' i were them, I wouldn't give up my life for anything. And I don't hate or resent them either. We just lead different lives. I guess if one is confident of oneself and where one is headed, everything else is on the sidelines.

  10. I don't measure events in my life by what happens in the lives of those around me. Never have and never will. I'm aware that that is so unNigerian. I am glad however that it is how God created me. I don't have an envious or a jealous bone in my body. My attitude to life generally is 'do you and I'll do me and lets all be happy doing it alone or together.' Life is stressful enough without having that competitive mentality as well. It's actually something that I feel very strongly about cos the Naija community ostracises those that do not have that mentality. Not everyone wants to keep up with the joneses. I see that as a separate issue to being the best I can be at what I do though. Go figure!

    LOL at 'work in progress.' It's a great thing to be aware of the vices in our community that sort of affect us. We are all affected in one way or another but we can choose how to limit its effects, I guess. It's always a challenge nonetheless.

  11. Scratching at a touchy surface. I'm very stingy with friendship because I've been used before. Because of this I try to make sure jealousy etc are not part of it before I go to far.

  12. I think the whole "I better pass my neighbour" is a sick attitude. That's one of the reasons for crime and corruption. The sky is wide enough for everybody to fly and soar. Fly to your heart's content and not because you're in competition with someone else, talk less your friend. As my people say "you can't use somebody else's clock to run your own race".

    I agree there could be times when envy may want to set in especially if something great just happened to another person and not you, but address it there and then and banish the thought! Otherwise it will just fester out of control.

    When all is said and done, I want friends who have values I can relate to and just be friends with. Not people I'm better than or people I want to use to climb up the ladder of success. Just friends.

  13. Funny I experienced it back in Naija knowing my then neighbors "housewives" used to compete with one another. This one wife personally insulted my MOTHER and another would say...my kids are going to great schools and having fun on the weekends, all your kids do is sit at home bored during nothing...My Mother would just say nothing!

    Another one wife in the same apartment complex would try so hard to dress pass the other ladies, she would wear nice clothes to drop her kids off at school, and then dress hot to pick them up from school...I am talking of well dressed Naija gele and wrappers...Ah!!! The second housewife would want to outdress that one by overdoing the perfume...

    I tell you when this woman pass our house that time...the perfume would be smelling and we would know she is going out! Her shoes would make so much noise and we as kids would be peeping at her.

    My mother was a good woman, raised us well but never was into the competition with those women cos she had her own core values which was MONEY can't buy family being together, we always spent our time indoors watching movies or TV, talking together, she was a good woman.

  14. Thanks for all the comments, and keep it coming.

    @Naijalines, I noticed that as well. What can I do, I shrug my shoulders and move on.

    @YNC, wow is all I can say. Competition by perfume, na wa o, lol...

  15. This definitely has all the makings of a potentially long debate. Still, I try to keep things pretty simple on this front.

    The competition is solely against my dreams and targets - whatever else my neighbour may (or may not) have. Here's what I mean: "I better pass my neighbour" is a Nigerialization of the "in the land of the blind concept". It simply means "this tiny gen might not power the fridge - but at least, people will see the light that's missing in XYZ's flat here". That ideology is never a true test of ABC's absolute potential.

    While that relative advantage is good for the ego, it always helps to be surrounded by a few people who are better than one in certain ramifications - and as such can inspire one to be better. Being the overall 'head of the pack' has the downside of all-round complacency!

    I should 'case my rest' here, Myne. I didn't plan to say much. hehehe

  16. I think people think it in their heads and some people are too stupid they act it out. some people dont have filters they say it out. it takes grace to remember daily and count your blessings in a non-malicious way

  17. yes oh,I totally relate,I'm more intelligent than most of my friends and they usually feel like knocking me out and sometimes when we get to hang out,I get easily approached,no that that,my friends are beautiful and very sassy but I have some swags and itannoys them sometime o that even when someone,yea a guy is staring at us or one of us,they ''gretel,it's yhu nah''
    but I take that balance part although it's not easy esp for me.

  18. This is a great post, I am very conscious of this. I have had frenemies on the past due to this. I am also a wip and simply choose my friends more wisely these days.

  19. Fantastic post!

    I have to say I have a wonderful set of friends. Some of us were discussing the other day, wondering how comes we've remained such good friends for so many years. We discovered that the missing element was competitiveness. We don't compete against each other (well, for the most part - lol). And we call each other out when we notice some jealousy - hahaha!

    LOL! @ frenemies! Those "friends" you keep close so you can keep an eye on them.

  20. Nice one Myne.
    If competition means trying to do as good as your mates or even do better, well yeah. But I think of it more like we inspire each other. Thankfully we are all in different fields so workwise is cool. But marriage..hmmm, last man standing here! I came across this saying that 'everyone is dancing to a different drum beat' or something like that. I embraced it with all my heart a long time ago.

    WIP? Definitely Yes.

  21. My few close friends and i are so different, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and even if a few times we all get maybe jealous, it only serves as motivation and that's what makes the friendships interesting and real....We support and appreciate each other
    I am also a WIP

  22. Interesting questions! For me, the answer is that I have a great mixture of 'types' of friends. I don't choose friends based on how I want to feel about myself, other than to deliberately choose to keep friends who treat me well and enrich my life I guess.

  23. I started to evaluate myself against my friends according to your suggestions and then I stopped. Because I realised that the fact that I was struggling so much to think of the answers means I don't compete with / compare myself with my friends.

    I've never been competitive with other people but I'm extremely competitive with myself. To be perfectly honest, part of that is a slight arrogance - I feel that at being me and at the things that I value and want to achieve, the only person I have to beat and the only obstacle I have to get out of my way is my own self :)

    Very thought provoking post :)

  24. wow i have never actually thought of this.Anyways i think friendship is a two way thing and most times it is necessary to make friends with people that influence you positively.My friends are people i look up to, i admire them a lot and i try to learn from them. I know people make friends for diff reasons and for me to be able to learn from others i have to be teachable and humble. Btw thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. i appreciate it :)

  25. balance is key!

    i never thought about this until a friend brought it to my attention that a mutual friend was like that and boy was she right! LOl 2 of her bets friends, 1 was fat and the other ugly - making her the creme la creme of the bunch - God forgive me, but that amongst other things sha!

    It all boils down to being insecure as well, because a secure person wouldnt see the need for that.

  26. hmmm....well, i dunno how to go about this debate becox i have VERY FEW friends and all are married & we experience similar issues.....one is a graduates, while 3 are entrepreneurs...which to me does not determine anything or give room for competition becox we help each other in times of needs...but i have heard cases of competition though..but it is more common among neighbours & relations than friends...my 2 cents.

  27. this gets me thinking! i actually have had friends who used me before so right now i choose sparingly!i wouldnt even say i have a friend right now all i have is a large pool of acquintances...i actually really need a friend i hope i can promote one of my acquintances now.buh i seriously like the 50 50 appproach we are mutually beneficial to eachother i think that will be the ideal situation. alos, i think low self esteem is the reason mostly girls choose people they believe they are better than as friends.that has to be it

  28. This is food for thought oh. And the comments are pretty interesting. I suppose if you do this then you're not really friends, you just want to boost your ego :(

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