Friday, March 01, 2013
“I’m just not a competitive person. I don’t care about winning.” That’s what I’ve been saying since…well as long as I can remember. Being the youngest, by a large margin, and being the only girl, I had to learn early to be happy with scraps. In school, I was too clumsy and slow to play sports and being undiagnosed with dyslexia meant I couldn’t win in academics. So I found it easier to just not care. When we’d have to run races, I’d walk, when we had to make friends, I hung back. I just didn’t put in the effort and I'd say, I wasn’t competitive and that I was happy with being in last place.
But as I have been working on my confidence and physical stamina I’m beginning to doubt my lack of competitiveness.
I recently joined a Walk Across Arizona team. For eight weeks, we log our “steps” (both literally, and by converting physical activities into miles.) We “compete” against other teams to see which team is top. We don’t actually win anything other than bragging rights, so I kept telling my team, “It doesn’t really matter, it’s all for fun and a good excuse to go for a walk at lunch.”
Then one of my teammates, a girl I don’t even know, (the daughter of a co-worker and teammate) beat me out for the lead spot. I was surprised by my jealousy. At first I said, “Well, good for her. She’s helping our team.” But the nagging jealousy wouldn’t go away. And it annoyed me that I cared. But I’m jealous of her. And I wanted to beat her. I ended up adding a grueling hike to my fitness routine 3 days a week, and biking even more, just to add a few extra miles to beat her out.
And when I did surpass her, I felt great! I wanted to keep going and “leave her in the dust”, so to speak. I told a friend about how ridiculous this was, as I wasn’t a competitive person. She pointed out that I am becoming more and more competitive. During our 5K run, I would pick a person ahead of me, and decided, for one reason or another, that I would not allow them to be in front of me. I’d then run myself to exhaustion to get ahead of them. There have been other times too; on my bike, when I would try to beat out other cyclists who tried to pass me, and even hiking, I will push myself to pass certain people on the trail, for no other reason then I want to be in front of them.
I’m facing the reality that I always did care, but I didn’t want anyone else to know. I didn’t want to feel sad or ashamed when/if I lost, so I didn’t try. But as my confidence grows, so does my competitiveness. I want to win! I even want to win this stupid Walk Across Az, or at the very least come really close. I’m no longer happy, just accepting what remains at the end.