The Best Article About Competition On Gabberish
By Alex Wadelton
This issue of Gabberish is about competition. A great topic, and I’m here to show you why my article is the best.
First of all, I’ve won lots of awards. Like heaps. Have done for decades which is probably longer than the other people who will be contributing to Gabberish. The first award I won was for singing. In fact I was the only one in my school who won a music award and a sports award and an academic award. And I’m not talking high school. This was primary school.
Indeed, I recall when I was in grade three we had a big race around the school yard. And I beat Toby Gilbert, who had recently won the 100 and 200 metre double at school sports.
I wasn’t chosen in those events, probably because I was busy singing and winning music awards. And getting really high maths scores. Better than anyone else. He also never won a music award, which makes me better.
Then, there was that time in a cricket match I took five wicket for three runs. After opening the batting and being forced to retire not out. Who knows how much I would’ve made if they’d let me bat on. I’m sure they never forced Bradman to retire. I’m not saying I was better than him, but it does make you think doesn’t it?
Next week I took 5 for 12. And retired not out again. Only for bloody Michael Barnett to be given the match ball at an all school assembly, for taking a hat-trick. Never mind I was on hat-trick twice in the same match. And took a flying one handed catch at covers. Little known fact, Michael Barnett was in Barnett House- named after his grandfather. I’m not saying that nepotism was involved.
And did I mention that time I beat the entire school at spelling? It was one of the proudest days of my life, beating out all the older kids, and all the other pip squeaks who were younger than me. And clearly not as good at spelling.
Then I went to high school, and because I was the youngest kid in my class, all the teachers automatically put me in the lower class and in the B teams of all the sports teams.
I cried almost every day.
I struggled with depression.
I retreated into my shell.
I had no real friends.
I self harmed.
I hated myself.
I wished I was dead almost every day.
Blah blah blah then I won awards doing advertising!
Oh awards! I loved them! Every time, there was a shortlist I’d scour the Campaign Brief headlines, looking to see if I’d made the cut. When I won, it was a great feeling. So happy, and overjoyed to share the news. It was so great to see everyone congratulating me for my work. Then the next award show would come, seemingly four days later.
When I didn’t win I spiralled into a depressive funk, questioning what was wrong with my ideas, what was wrong with the jury, why was I so shit. Then I’d see other people posting about their wins and get really pissed off and angry. So, then I’d do more work, and enter more awards.
But the thing was, my ideas were the same whether they won an award or not. I remember a recruiter once saying that an agency loved all my work, but didn’t think I’d won enough awards, so they wouldn’t hire me because of that.
I worked for an ECD who once said to me, “I don’t care if we lose every piece of business, as long as we win all the awards”. A different ECD asked us to take him through what work we were doing. We showed him the fully integrated campaign, the big TV ad in production, and the raft of digital, and after five minutes he stopped us and said, “No, no, no, what pro-active work are you doing for Cannes?”
Over the years, this competition that I was forced to be a part of started to lose its lustre. I wanted to be secure in my own skin. I wanted to raise children who only competed against themselves, and were always striving to make the world better than it was before. Just like my wife Sheridan had been saying for years.
I realised that just because some people I didn’t know in the south of France deigned to award me (or not award me) shouldn’t have any bearing on whether I liked what I did.
I realised that the first forty years of my life had been spent competing against people who didn’t even know or care about me. That this competition in my mind against the world was unhealthy and had warped what was truly important in life.
The only thing I was winning at, was being depressed, and angry, and sad. So much wasted brain space, and energy, poured into an un-winnable competition where I’d never actually be truly happy.
Always looking for that next hit. That next high.
Nothing was ever enough.
Now, I’ve stopped competing against other people. I just do stuff I want to do. And stopped entering awards. And began to concentrate on doing work that I believe truly makes a positive difference to the world. Not for awards, but because I believe in them.
The only competition I’m interested in now is in bettering myself. And I think I’m much less of a jerk than I used to be.