I've come to face a truth about myself recently. I am a lousy competitor. There must be a fundamental gene that is switched off in my DNA because I really don't thrive on competition.
Recently, I threw my hat in the ring to back Harry Potter in Educlaytion's March Movie Madness. I entered a March Madness bracket, despite knowing next to nothing about basketball that wasn't gleaned from my high school cheerleading days. (So, in a word, little.) The husband and I went bowling last night. These mundane details all have one thing in common: I decided to "compete" at something. Results would be tallied. Rankings would be made.
- Harry and I lost to The Lion King in the first round so GO PRINCESS BRIDE!
- My quirky and completely uninformed bracket strategy quickly shuttled me to the bottom half of the pool standings.
- I was reminded that I really, really suck at bowling.
My supreme lack of coordination means I've never been on a sports team faced with the opportunity to make a clutch play. But had I been so, I would most definitely have choked. I don't have that killer instinct, that mental toughness that says "I want to win and I'm not going to let ANYTHING stop me. Now, self, let's MAKE THIS HAPPEN."
My husband and I play a round of Tiger Wood's Golf on the Wii every Friday. To keep it interesting, he generously handicaps me by playing on the advanced level while I play easy. I've gotten a lot better with practice, so I regularly find myself in front. However, the husband is a competitor. Sometimes if he's having a particularly rough game and I get on a roll that handicap starts to feel a little unfair. Even though I don't deliberately throw a game - he would hate that - my concentration falters and I start making bad shots too. It's like I can't actually make myself go for the jugular. Even when we're talking about an electronic stand-in for a game that some would argue is barely a sport considering how unfit an excellent player can be in real life.
I have known some ultra-competitive souls in my lifetime, and I see how invested they are in the result. They are intense, irritated when things are going poorly, elated when things are going well and it all just seems so exhausting to me. I wonder whether my indifference to competition is born of mediocrity? Do I refuse to care simply so I won't be too disappointed if I don't succeed? Perhaps. I get frustrated enough engaging in activities I'm bad at - it would only be worse if I also cared that I'm not as good as someone else.
For me, life isn't about competition, it's about excelling myself. When I bowled, I achieved improvement and even managed to break 50 in the third game. (Yes, I really am THAT BAD.) I knew to stop when the score dropped in game four due to the fact that I couldn't grip a ball, or indeed even a doorknob, anymore. Simply improving was enough for me - and it had to be when I was playing against a man who had only bowled once more than two decades ago but is good at everything.
Thanks to a free subscription to the daily newspaper, D recently rediscovered an enjoyment of crossword puzzles. He starts them and if he happens to get stuck, after a while he'll hand it over to me. I hate not finishing a crossword puzzle and I'm not above resorting to google to suss out a clue. I try to resolve it through research, not just finding the answer. Invariably I'll stumble across someone on Yahoo answers who has posted a question that could only have arisen while trying to solve the crossword. Invariably there will be correct answers provided. I love this - crosswords as a global team sport. I'm not competing against, I'm competing with people. When D hands me a crossword and I can unlock it solely through my own efforts, I'm stoked. I proudly hand it back to him and say, "I did it!" I feel that I excelled, but I didn't have to beat anyone else to do it.
It might mean I'm a loser, but at least I am an excellent loser.
So tell me - are you a competitor? What's it like on the other side?