The Spirit of Competition

Sisters fishing

An acquaintance told me her son didn’t care much for playing in the band until an audition for a special ensemble made it competitive. Then he excelled.

She wasn’t clear about whether he thrived on the competition with others or against himself, but it is clear that we live in a competitive world where our skills and abilities are tested against other people.

I was never the smartest, fastest, strongest or best looking. I’ve resisted competition most of my life, or so I thought. I am one of the shortest (4 feet, 11½ inches) and claim that title in most groups of adults. I confess I’ve felt intimated, several times, when another woman stood beside me who was my height or shorter.

I’ve pondered why I felt that way. I think my height, or lack of height, was the outward attribute that set me apart. When I’ve lost that edge to someone else, I’ve felt uncomfortable. I unconsciously perceived that in the comparison, I was less than another. Really, I could blame the competitive society we live in—and I would be justified in doing so—but ultimately, I defined that competition all by myself.

I created the distance between these women and me.

My last post quoted this maxim, “Try not to compare your children. . . . help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are ‘enough.’ ” Often, we perpetuate that obsession with our own fears. We assume that if we aren’t in the spotlight for something unique and special, then we’re the opposite.

It’s ironic that competition is on my mind since this month I’ve been invited to judge Scribbit’s May Write-Away Contest. The topic is spring and you have until May 20th to enter.  Please enter! I’m from Minnesota, and I always need a good dose of warm weather thoughts. We haven’t cleared the hurdle of our last frost, yet.

I’ve entered the contest many times, but I’ve never won more than an honorable mention. Admittedly, that soured me a few times. I thought I’d done my best, but I didn’t win. Still, I continued to enter and also branched out to develop my writing in other ways. In the process I learned that my goal in entering Michelle’s contest was to develop my creative skills, not necessarily to win.

When I define my own goal, I also define my success.

If you’re new to my site, coming from Scribbit or somewhere else, I invite you to get comfortable here. My goal is to contribute more light without competing for the spotlight. I do compare, but I try to compare everyday experiences, not people, to reveal larger truths about ourselves.

Leave a comment and introduce yourself. Go on. I want to get to know you. Tell me one thing you’re good at and one thing you’re working toward. Then look around. Let these spring pictures from my garden inspire you to create your own beauty this season. Browse my other posts in my categories—creativity, nurturing, pondering, spirituality—at the top of this page. Find what we have in common.

And, I promise, I’m not competing with you.

1 Comment

  1. Michelle at Scribbit
    May 14, 2009

    I’m afraid I haven’t had many entries this month–bad topic perhaps.

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