I used to think I was the most competitive person I know.

Then I had Lenna. Ha. Okay, that’s not my point at all. While Lenna is competitive, I’ve come to understand that for her it’s not a drive to be better than anyone else so much as it is a drive to be her personal best. If she trounces other suckers along the way, well, they should have worked harder. If she’s one of the suckers who got trounced, she should have worked harder. But nowhere in any of it is any statement about her worth or the worth of other people. It’s a statement about hard work to that kid, nothing else. The kid’s attitude toward competition is much healthier than her mother’s.

And now I’m getting to my point. I realized I’m not competitive so much as I’m insecure. If I can “win”, I’m the better person. And this “winning” applies to everything. If there is no real definition of win or lose, I apply my own definition of “better” to award myself victory or defeat. (I mark the ol’ Loss column far more often than I mark one for the Win column, so even though I’m ridiculously competitive, I’m also scrupulously unbiased towards myself.) This is ridiculous, of course. It is, in fact, the highest order of utter bullspit I’ve ever written, said or believed. But stupid or not, it’s something I believed without even really thinking about it. (Probably that’s how it lasted so long in my belief system.)

Bill and I were discussing this last night, and he asked me why it only bothered me sometimes with some people. He asked me why I didn’t feel like I had to compete with everyone on everything. I stammered a little, and then I told him to be quiet because I didn’t like him all that much anyway. But I started to think (which I believe was his only goal in the first place, the rat), and some of the conclusions I drew were pretty startling. If I feel good about a particular area of my life, then I don’t feel like I have to compete with anyone. But in areas where I don’t feel so self-assured, I need to compete or to justify why I’m so clearly not doing as well as someone else.

I’m sure y’all are saying, “Duh, Steph,” but this was genuinely nothing I’d ever really thought about before. It simply was a part of my “nature” to be competitive was about as far as I got in examining this particularly annoying quality of mine. I’ve decided that I’m going to do my best to get rid of this particular quality. My only competition is going to be with myself. What other people do or don’t do doesn’t say one word about me or my qualities, and I really need to get over the idea that I have to be “better” to be valid.

My milkshake is still totally better than yours, though. Hee.

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