I was only about four months into my freshman year of college when I started my first internship.
By most standards, I was ahead of the game. With the craziness that comes along with going away to school for the first time, college counselors usually advise their students to put off the internship process until the end of sophomore year.
And that was originally my plan, too—until my roommate scored her first fashion internship in New York City.
Panic set in.
Although I was genuinely excited for my roommate and she never once made me feel unsuccessful, I suddenly found myself comparing my slowly emerging professional life to hers. Am I falling behind? Do I look like a failure? Will I always live in the shadows of my roommate if I don’t start looking for a job ASAP?
Overcome by the fear of inadequacy, I began sending out my resume to companies all over the city. A few days and many emails later, I was on my way to an interview that eventually turned into my first internship.
I was ecstatic to take the big leap into the working world but unfortunately I discovered that my inner voice still was not satisfied. I went from worrying about my lack of internship to wondering if my internship was “as impressive” or “as cool” as my roommate’s.
Which is a problem. The competition for national, big name internships is already fierce enough— so what happens when your biggest competition becomes the girl sleeping in the bed right next to yours?
Psychologically, girls are considered the more submissive sex. But we are, in fact, fiercely competitive—especially against one another. Research shows that from an early age boys are more inclined to gather themselves into large clusters and compete against an opposing group, whereas girls tend to work and socialize in pairs.
Because they’ve limited themselves to a small pair, girls begin comparing themselves to the other girl in their twosome when that natural urge to compete kicks in. Without even realizing it, girls start competing to be the friend with the cuter clothes. The hotter boyfriend. The better internship.
But it’s not healthy to be in constant competition with the person who’s supposed to be your biggest support system. There is nothing that can destroy a friendship faster than the insecurity-driven tug-a-war to be the “best” (Cue the destructive term “frenemy”).
The solution? Bring each other up, not down.
I’m still best friends with my roommate from freshman year (shoutout to fellow Lala contributor, Katherine Burks!). But to keep this duo alive, any insecurity needs to be shaken and then harnessed in a way that’s more productive to our friendship: When I’m worried about my resume, she’ll be the first to read it. When she needs someone to proofread her cover letter, I’m there.
And when one of us scores an amazing internship, the other one is ready to grab the glasses and pop some champagne.
In short, we utilize and celebrate each other’s strengths. I can say in full confidence that my internship pursuits would not have been nearly as successful without her push, help and inspiration, and I hope that she could say the same about me.
(Writer’s note: I just asked her and she totally agrees. We truly do try to support each other wholeheartedly)
The goal isn’t to knock each other out of the winner’s circle; it’s to get to the winner’s circle together.
Just remember, Lala ladies: your best friend should always be your loudest cheerleader, not your enemy.
Image Via Ariannamariephotography.com