Even when I was able to claim academic success over her, my accomplishments were immediately diminished.
Scoring higher on homework, a quiz, or a test was chalked up to luck. Or there would be some other sort of explanation as to why I edged her out like she forgot about it and didn’t study much. Even when I was faced with something I thought I could be proud of myself for, I had external influences telling me that I still wasn’t meeting some unattainable standard. I think I always set the bar for myself at an unreachable level. But it seemed to be inched even further out of reach with each experience of inferiority.
This seem to set off an internal dialogue that I still struggle with today: if you’re not first, you’re unimportant.
I could rephrase this several ways since not everything can be broken down into first place, second place, etc. but the idea of not being the best became abhorrent. And I could not emotionally handle failure to any extent; I would break down at home because I once again got edged out on an exam by a few points or my project didn’t win the blue ribbon.