You can be educated, you can have common sense but there are still some things that only experience will teach you.
Growing up I never liked being competitive. I played no sports and in my studies, I got good grades with little effort. Being first place was like a game to me, until I placed third one year and my mother threatened to cancel Christmas. So I became motivated and I excelled, because an education can be expensive and even more so for a single parent.
People often say now, it’s not a competition. But that is a lie. The world is built and engineered for people to compete. Anything, which you will hold of value, you will compete for. As humans we are driven by a basic need of better and so we equip ourselves with the tools deemed mandatory to achieve whatever better is for us. We seek employment, promotion, education, companionship, wealth, growth, health, world economic stability, eco-sustainability, and love… and for all of it we compete. Because for anything you want in life, someone either wants the opposite and as such will work against you, or they want the same thing and as such will work against you.
So whether or not you think you’re competing with someone, if you want your better then inevitably you are. And yes there are many achievements you can access like learning to drive, cooking something tasty, or becoming healthier and fitter. However, when you’re trying to get that job, or into that grad program, or even someone’s attention, then whether you’ll admit it or not you’re competing. Because for you to get any of that, then someone else will not.
If it will at all make you feel better, tell yourself that you’re only competing with you. It helps. Because when you’re out there running the gauntlet, worrying about someone else’s pace and time will only distract you. And in the end, whether or not you did better than someone else, it will be good to know that you did your best and that it was better than you yourself had done before.
Finally, do not be discouraged if when having done your best, you’re still not the victor. Some people do not want the best, they do not even want better. They like good for now because they’re not ready for any better. Don’t let it discourage you, you just keep getting better and being your best self.
Experience is an education in itself and who feels it, knows it.