** warning this is possibly a rant, but I’m still too invested to decide if it truly is**
Today, I want to talk about competition. (I’m refraining from writing something really ballsy, so bear with me as I try to dance around what I want to say, in the case of certain eyes coming across it. I promise I’m still going to make my point though.)
When I was a little girl, was very important to me. My mother, a middle daughter with 4 siblings, was raised in a competitive habitat and either through her nurturing or just plain dumb genetics– I became the aspiring 1st place winner in any category imaginable. Being well liked in school, having good grades, athletically dominating all the girls and the boys, being well rounded in the arts. You name it, I was trying to conquer it.
Upon later examination, and personal introspection, A LOT of these attempts looked more like desperation than drive, but I wanted to be number 1 so badly! (I’m just hoping all my freckles made my obsessive behavior passably adorable.)
I spent my summers from ages 8-17 as a committed member of the Capitola Jr. Life Guards program. Rising at 8am and heading to the beach, and spending a minimum of three hours working out everyday during the summer. One day we had to do this ridiculous R-S-R-S-R-S-R-S-R (run-swim-run-repeat until death) it was unimaginably long, and for most of us, we completely felt that this “punishment” was bogus. For some reason though, I pushed myself to complete it, beating many of my fellow competitors that would smoke me every other day I spent on that beach. After everyone had crossed the finish line, grabbed a towel and their homemade snack, the instructors held an impromptu awards ceremony and I was given a little yellow shovel for “digging deep.” With a stupid, freckle-faced grin and a poorly composed acceptance speech I claimed my plastic trophy and the moment was quickly over.
Now, I’ve won a stupid amount of awards in my life, but none mean more than that yellow shovel that I still have today, tucked away in my keepsakes. Though it may not be worth more than a quarter, it’s significance in how I see the world and how I act on a daily basis continues to invaluable. I’m still not sure how much of that pride was based off of beating people v.s. overcoming the odds/pushing myself v.s. being acknowledged for doing all of the above, but no matter what– it felt gooood.
So as an adult, and a teacher, and someone who is very good at what they do (I have been teaching for 10 years now) I look at my students and think “how can I give them what my yellow shovel gave me?” and the answer I’ve decided is this: they need to believe that the best competition is the one we wage within ourselves. If we are convinced that a ‘win’ must come through beating others, we will never be able to be satisfied without hurting those around us. Instead, a win must come from personal bests being taken to new levels; to show ourselves that we are more than we were yesterday, because that will never leave you.
I know, I know, I sound like one of those inspirational posters you see on the wall of a dentist’s office, but people, can you see where I’m coming from?
I hope so. More post coming soon now that I have my life back!