A Few Thoughts about Competition

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Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing a piece, personality-wise. Well, I’m sure it’s many pieces, given how many go into any given personality and how often I wonder. If you put the metaphorical pieces end to end, would they stretch from here to the metaphorical moon?

But one piece in particular (better said, the lack of it) puzzles me, and that’s the piece governing competitiveness. I look deep, but I can’t find it. What happened to it? It must have snuck off in the night some time back. And I’m not bragging about this — it’s not like I’m so zen-blessed or Buddha-like that competition is beneath me.  It’s more like I don’t really care anymore about being the fastest, the best, the most. I can’t think of anything I would be driven to win at.

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When I was a kid it was different. On the playground I wanted to be the best at everything. If my friends and I ran around pretending we were wild horses, I wanted to be the fastest and the wildest horse. Playing tetherball or dodge ball, I wanted to beat everyone who challenged me – not just beat them, but crush them, and I did crush them.  Many kids thought I was mean.  I practiced yo-yo tricks so much it hurt, because I wanted to be the Yo-Yo Champion of the World. If I couldn’t master something (like the strategy behind games of chess) and knew I couldn’t win,  I simply didn’t engage in it.

How things change as you age, no? If I do something well now (write a good poem, for example) I’m happy, but I’m just as happy to have a friend write a better one. Nothing eats away at me if I’m not The Best – I don’t curse and tell myself I’ll win next time.

So, I’m really curious: Do most of you reading this feel that competition is healthy? That it shows energy and self-confidence? Even in an adult? My lack of competitiveness –  rather than representing a state of blissful Nirvana, does it only represent inertia? Even worse, does it suggest a lack of confidence and/or depression? On the other hand (lots of hands waiting for their turn) could a lack of competitiveness, seen by some as a problem, mean I’m ready for sainthood?

 

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6 responses to “A Few Thoughts about Competition

  1. Great post, Julie. You’ve raised questions I’ve asked myself many times. I do think some degree of competition is healthy, as it motivates you to strive to be better. But as a writer, I compete more against myself rather than others — and I am my own harshest critic.

    • I agree, Jama – competing with your self (that is, against your own previously best efforts) is a different thing altogether….as long as you’re not too hard on yourself as you give it a go.

  2. Food for thought. For me, competition only works retroactively. If I’m feeling disheartened I can look back over prizes I’ve won and assure myself that SOMEBODY thinks I can do this. But to look forward, to possible recognition, that just squishes all the joy out of actually doing it.

  3. Julie Paschkis

    I know that you are the founder of the Church of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. I nominate you to be the patron saint as well. How could a peach compete with an onion? They are both delicious.

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