No, Seriously, Go Ahead — You Win

November 28, 2012 § 27 Comments

I’ve figured something out about myself: I’m not a good competitor.

Lately, it seems like everything is a race or a contest, doesn’t it? Hurry, hurry, hurry, get X before it’s gone, nab a spot on the list, be first in line, scream the loudest and get the most attention, raise the most accomplished kids, obtain the most… whatever. Bleh. It makes me tired just thinking about all that competing.

Don’t get me wrong — I am kind of a perfectionist, and I enjoy pushing myself to do my best at something. So I am competitive in the sense that I continually try to outdo myself. I just don’t particularly enjoy being drawn into competition with anyone else. (Why? I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t like the idea of being anyone’s opponent. You know fighting makes me nervous.)

There are people, however, who are natural competitors — they love turning anything and everything into a rivalry. I prefer to respond to them with nonsense, or better yet, not respond at all. If someone says, “Hurry!” I will slow down. If someone asks, “Whose cupcakes do you think are better, yours or mine?” I will say, “Oh, these are cupcakes? I thought they were earmuffs.” If someone pulls that “my outfit is more fabulous than your outfit” bullshit, I’ll slap a Chiquita banana sticker on my forehead and say, “This is vintage.” Admittedly, I’m a bit contrary. But I also just don’t want to engage in a competition about something not worth competing over.

A friend asked me recently about my work ethic. The question was something about whether motivation comes from others or from ourselves. I said, I am inspired by others; I am encouraged by others; I am educated by others… but my drive to do good work comes from a desire to do my best, not a desire to beat out someone else. Can’t we each just do the best we can? Why stir up a competition where there is none?

Here’s a metaphor: Say I’m in a sandbox, happily building castles with my little blue shovel. Someone walks up, steps into the sandbox, and says, “Let’s have a contest to see whose castles are better!”

Me: “Nah, that’s OK. Here, take my blue shovel. I’ll go play with another shovel in that sandbox over there.”

Person: “No — I want to race against you and have a sandcastle WAR!”

Me: “Yeah, no. I don’t want to do that. Um… hey, look, I can turn my eyelids inside out!”

Person: “COMPETE.”

Me: “Don’t make me do this.”

Person: “FIGHT ME.”

Me: [chucks shovel at person's head] “Fine.”

As soon as someone implies something is a competition, I’m inclined to get the hell out. Does anyone else do that? Is it just me?

Maybe I’m just a wuss. I know competition can be useful and fun and productive, and there’s a time and a place for it. I know it’s a skill to be able to yell, “I’M GONNA KICK YOUR ASS INTO NEXT WEEK, DONKEYBALLS,” then turn around and shake hands and say, “Good game!”

(And yes, if you absolutely insist, I will kick your ass into next week and call you Donkeyballs. It’s not that I don’t know how to compete; I just don’t like to do it all the time.)

The thing is, we already have to compete so much. We have to compete to get into school; we have to compete for jobs; we have to compete to put in the winning bid on a house; etc. Isn’t that enough? Maybe it’s naive, but I’d rather focus on what I can control than on what others are doing — whether we’re talking work, keeping up with the Joneses, or just life in general. The “who do I have to beat?” mindset turns everything into a contest. And that’s just no fun. (To me, anyway.)

So this is for all the combative types out there: You want to squeeze your car into the turn lane in front of mine? Fine. You want the last word in the conversation? Have it. You want to yammer on about how perfect your kids are every chance you get? Knock yourself out.

Unless I knock you out first.

* * *

In other news…

Did you see the penguins on Go Fug Yourself and Refinery29 last week? Goodness, these little critters are making friends. What a hoot.

I love sharing! Share, share, share. It’s what makes the Internet fun. Thank you for sharing funny things with me and for sharing what you find here with others.

Note: There’s a difference between good-sharing (saying, “Hey, look at this!” and linking back to it or mentioning where it came from, as most people do, like the Fug and Refinery29 did, because they’re awesome) and bad-sharing (lifting something and intentionally passing it off as one’s own work). Just say no to bad-sharing. It’s Wrong with a capital W — plus it’s just not good manners. It also may or may not also cause an oozing skin rash. (Look, I can’t explain karma. I’m just telling you what I hear.) Many sincere thanks to everyone who practices good-sharing. Love live the Internet!

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§ 27 Responses to No, Seriously, Go Ahead — You Win

  • Honestly, I don’t have the energy to compete with anyone over anything. I am just trying to keep my head above water here and keep my children alive. If I find out that something turns into a competition- I usually bow out without making a scene. I just don’t have that streak. I used to where sports were concerned as a young whippersnapper- but meh. I have bigger fish to fry. Like traveling the world. :)

  • Veronika says:

    Great post, and I have to agree. I prefer not to compete when there is no reason to – and if I play something where the competition is the point (like board games), I make sure I’m not on the opposing team from, say, my boyfriend – because IF I compete, I go all-out vicious about it (‘I might not win but YOU are losing, motherbleeper!’), and I don’t want that sort of dynamic with loved ones.

    I also met entirely too many the ‘I am too fabulous for this place’ people who feel they need to put someone (or everyone) down at a party in order to feel superior. They often end up sitting in the corner alone and wondering why no one wants to mingle with them.

    Me, I am usually in the middle of the yammering crowd, admiring people’s shiny clothes/jewellery/stuff/congratulating them on whatever, and having helluva more fun. And that’s all I have to say about that!

    P.S. I’ve read a lot of your blog and lurked here a while, but figured I should say something about this post, since it hit pretty close to home.

  • Shannon says:

    I’m with Farrah. I don’t have the energy for that kind of shazam. I do, however, have time for coffee…and mine is totally better than yours – wanna fight?!!! Just kidding. Raising my coffee cup to you and your penguins this morning. Have a happy day!

  • courtney says:

    ML — thrilled to see you’re on Refinery29’s radar! Have a great day.

    C

  • Shari says:

    I often find when someone always wants to compete, That they are lacking in some area or at least they think that they are lacking :( And your Penguins are awesome :)

  • Shannon says:

    Is it possible that we get less competitive with age? Because I used to be a fairly competetive person, but not so much anymore. I just don’t seem to care about winning as much as I used to, and I think I’m okay with that (Except for Scrabble. I still really want to win at Scrabble).

  • outlawmama says:

    I am super competitive, and I hate it about myself. It makes me miserable and I end up ruining joyful moments because I am wondering who is better/skinnier/fast/more beloved. Soooo, I think your approach better. And I can admit, when it comes to competition, you are better than I am.

  • marsellaj says:

    When younger I didn’t like competition because I wanted to be liked, now I just don’t care. I mean who cares?! Competing against one’s self is good enough and produces better results. I wonder if it had to do with testosterone levels? Estrogen levels made me want to kill, not compete so I wonder?

  • I am incredibly competitive! With myself. I just lost to myself to complete 12 Christmas cards by 9am. I did 9:05-darn it! But I also win because I have 12 handmade Christmas cards done-woo! I hate to compete in any form. I’m just not into it; I just don’t care who is faster, better, etc. I am quite pleased with myself as I am. If I am forced to compete, I let the other person win so they can feel good about themselves because obviously they had something lacking to insist on the competition in the first place.

    And I am totally stealing this: “I find that it’s crippling to the creative process to spend much time fretting over what others are doing and wondering about measuring up.” minus the bit about the creative process. It is just plain crippling to spend much time fretting over what others are doing and wondering about measuring up. A woman at work is constantly asking me if others like her and if she measures up to them and who is doing a better job. I usually say that I don’t know and nobody cares but maybe if I tell her how she is hurting herself worrying over this useless stuff it will help her. Maybe not though…. she’s an old dog, I’m not sure she can learn new tricks, but she is intrigued that I don’t fret over others’ opinions.

    • do this the next time your coworker asks: “LALLALALAALALAAA I CANNOT HEAR YOU I CANNOT HEAR YOU… LALALALALALAAALALALALLL” and maybe she’ll get the idea. i had a crossing guard who was like that JEEEEEZUS and she made me nuts. “do yew liiike thiiis haaat? my husbaaaand thinks its siiilllley…” and i’d answer, “it’s standard uniform requirement, right? who cares what your husband says.” while thinking, “girl, i dunno what your parents did to you when you were little, but you’re 60 and they’re likely dead, so uh, move it on… nothing to see here…” oy.

  • Hate competition.

    Hate responsibility.

    I am my own island, and that’s OK. I love the people I’ve met.

    You, being one of them. How did we meet? I have no idea, but what a sweet delight.

  • Tracie says:

    I’m only competitive with myself, in my own mind.

    If someone wanted a sandcastle war, I would be the first person out of the box (and inside the house looking for a cuddly chair and a good book).

  • Thank you, thank you for posting this! It’s nice to know there are kindred spirits out there.

  • Yeahthtsme says:

    I suck at competition… don’t see the point competing others and getting worried and jealous about whether some one else is better than me. I think competing with others is a moot point it would be as if competing against their expectation and even if you succeed it’s not gonna work for you since,whatever you’re competing at may not be to your standards,just gotta push yourself to do better than yourself.But that’s just my theory.
    PS: the competing against other girl kicks-ass,the expression so realistic! :)

  • [...] I also highly recommend the funny posts and beautiful pictures of Imissyouwheniblink – see here for example. There is a whole wealth of funny cartoons to keep you amused on the oatmeal (health [...]

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