Compete With Your Yesterday
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.
More than that, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and one of the thought questions I posed to myself was the idea of competition. I couldn’t tell if I was a competitive person.
I was thinking about this for a while and came to a couple big realizations. The other night, two of my roommates and I were walking home down a fairly quiet street parallel to the park. We were talking about athleticism and sports when one of my roommates and I got on the conversation of a race. Just a short race to the end of the block.
Without hesitation, I was ready to begin. I slipped off my backpack and handed it to our second roommate who refused.
“You’ve been feeling sick all day, do you really want to race right now?”
I insisted and insisted.
He refused and refused.
I eventually cut my losses only on the guise of a makeup race in the future, preferably when I’m a little more dressed for the occasion.
I was recounting this story to another roommate the next morning as I continued this internal debate with myself over my competitive nature.
This third roommate paused before delicately saying:
“I think you might be competitive, Liz. You do that thing where you race people off the subway train to see who can get to the street first.”
Oh right. I do that, don’t I?
I was later walking through the park talking to my best friend and perhaps the person who knows me better than anyone else in the world. I posed the question to him and recounted the recent events.
At this point, I had accepted the fact that I might have a competitive streak. Now, however, I was trying to decide if it was a good thing or not.
My friend on the phone chose to focus on something else though.
"It’s not a bad thing, Liz. And anyway, I think the person you are most competitive with is yourself. You’re self-motivated."
And I thought about it for a while and he does have a point.
Had I taken off down the street that night, in my flats and khaki shorts, I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as my healthy rugby-player roommate, conveniently dressed in gym clothes. I knew I had no chance in this would-be match up. But I wanted to race him anyway if for no other reason to prove that I could.
And for that reason, I’m deeming this diagnosis of competitiveness as a positive one. If your number one opponent is who you were yesterday, then you are constantly setting yourself up for self-improvement.
And as for my habit of racing my fellow commuters off the 1 Train, down the single-lane escalator, and to the street? Well, that’s just a matter of impatience. But I’ll reflect on that another time.