Monday, December 13, 2010

Competitive: Why is it a dirty word?

When I was a kid, I was a competitive tennis player. Meaning I did the tennis circuit to a certain extent. I did all of the local tournaments, Midwest tournaments, but never really made the push for the national tournaments. Is it something I now regret? a 100%.


I am competitive by nature. I want to win at whatever I do. I want to be the best and I want to do it the best. But it has to be something that is truly important to me. I will not be competing at best housekeeper anytime soon and I don't care about that. I will not be competing for cleanest car as the Ray-Man can attest.

I am also a perfectionist at things that I deem important. If it is important to me that day to not miss a single overhead in Cardio, then I better damn well not miss a single overhead. Or I will throw my racquet and be disappointed in myself all day. (Sadly a real life example this past saturday. sorry I missed that overhead Dee!)

I didn't do the nationals as a kid because 1. I was the top 35 in the Midwest, but not that good. 2. If I never did them, I could never lose them, right?? So I never pushed the issue with my parents. I stayed in my box and was happy with what I did accomplish.

Now I wish I would have gotten out of my box. I find myself now even being afraid to do things because I might fail at them.

Let me tell you the truth about me: I do not care nearly as much about failing to someone else and what they think of me because of it as you might think. I beat myself up for not reaching my goal. And I BEAT myself up. It will eat at me for weeks, months, years. Let it go, I hear from the Ray-Man. But I am sooo disappointed in myself that I just cannot let it go!

It sits in the pit of my stomach and aches whenever I think about it. Simply just a competitive nature? Maybe. Or a perfectionist? Maybe.

I try to look at the other side and imagine myself sitting there and not caring about coming in last or even second about something. And goodness gracious is that a nightmarish thought to me! I could not imagine seeing the world from that vantage point just as much as you "non- competitivers" cannot possibly imagine my side.

I think that it is funny when people say my name and others go to describe me and they use the word competitive almost with disdain. It used to bug the hell out of me and it still jabs at me sometimes. Now I get a chuckle out of it. I know that if I was not competitive, I would not be where I am today.

I would not have started tennis tots. I would not have become the Director of Tennis for a club at the age of 27. I would not have become a tennis coach for a high school at all! I would most definitely have not become a runner!

Running has opened a whole new level of competition in me that tennis could not. Tennis is very cut and dry. You win, your better. You lose, your not. But running I know I will never be the fastest person in the world or even in that race that day. And that is not what pushes me. I pick a person ahead of me and try and pick them off. If I do, on to the next person. I try and beat my own times in every race I run and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I do not. But I never stop trying. Running lets me be the true perfectionist that I am!

It is so hard to not sit there and point out all of my accomplishments that have come from my competitive nature when people say the word with disdain, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I just cannot. But I am trying to get better and am even making an effort to put a smile on my face when it is said.

Just remember when you say it about me: It is not that I want to beat you. It is that I have my own severe standards of perfectionism to live up to. Its not a bad thing to be competitive and I am learning that it is not a bad thing to put yourself out there and fail once in awhile too.

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