Competition has ruled my life ever since I can remember. Everything from being the fastest runner in the playground when I was a kid, getting the best PR in a race, being the best looking, or whatever it is; I have to turn it into a competition. Although I seem to crave it, competition is also the source of constant fear and unhappiness. Fear that I won’t measure up to someone else or someone will be “better” than I am and the ensuing unhappiness when I feel disappointed in myself. It is a never-ending merry-go-round that I can never win because there will always be another person who trumps me.
For years, I ran races with a very competitive spirit. Of course, not being an elite runner, my competition was other runners in my running club, or often just myself. In running there is such as thing as a PR (personal record) and before any race, especially full Marathons, I had an idea of what my time should be. Sometimes I achieved my mark, being very proud, but inevitably another runner I knew had a better time. Then my pride in my achievement would dissipate. Other times I didn’t live up to my own expectations (there’s that word again) and although I just ran 26.2 miles (something that most people can’t do) doing pretty well, I would beat myself up. It was when one day I decided to totally stop running races and just run for the pure pleasure of the sport that I became free. I never entered another race and I felt happier. The same holds true for anything in my life because to me everything is a competition. All through my working life, I constantly compared myself to coworkers, wondering if they got a promotion, a raise, were liked more by the boss, etc. As a massage therapist, it is almost impossible not to be competitive–always wondering how many clients someone else had that day, how many “regular clients” they have, always jockeying for the boss’s approval. Of course, jealousy and competition go hand and hand. Even in my photo meetings, I want to be the best, instead of just enjoying the companionship and learning from like-minded people. I tell myself that I should just write because it feeds my soul, and not to worry about making money. I tell myself that I should just do photography because I like it and not try to feel that I have to adopt other’s methods, or their style. I want to be creative because it makes me feel good, and not have expectations or have to be accountable to others (which would happen if this became a business). I need to remember my own lesson with running and follow my own advice. For some reason competition is in my blood and although I have my theories, I’m not totally sure why. But, what I do know is that “everybody is a star” in some way; most of us have something we’re exceptional at and I need to recognize my own talents. When I stop comparing myself to other people, and just accept who I am, and not who I think I should be, I am so much happier.