I’ve never been particularly motivated by the idea of winning. I wasn’t a competitive child – as far as I remember (and I could be wrong) – I didn’t feel the need to do better than my older brother or that I was in any sort of direct competition with him. Our parents were always very unbiased towards both of us and never uttered the phrase “if only you were more like your brother/sister/boy next door”* (*delete as appropriate).
This lack of competitive spirit was quite obvious from a young age, particularly during a sports day at infants school when I am reported to have been winning a running race, only to turn to see where my fellow runners were and then slowing down to wait for them. It goes without saying that I didn’t win. And this has pretty much carried on through my childhood and adult life.
I can’t decide if this is a good quality or not? Is a lack of competitiveness something to be admired or is it a failing? Perhaps it depends on how you behave when you win or lose. And here I find myself in a bit of a quandary. Because, in spite of my lack of killer winning instinct, I’m not a very gracious loser. But only in particular situations:- Scrabble (I’m very proud of my spelling prowess and relatively wide range of vocabulary); certain games on the Wii (especially the one where you have to stop the baby crying); basic board games (not chess, I’m not bothered about chess but would like to be able to play); baking (I want to be really good at that). I’m really not fussed about anything else.
I like to play fair and like the rules to be followed. I’ve always tried to instil this in the children and, from an age where they can understand, have not been one of those mums that just lets them win. I think it’s important to make them learn that you can’t win at everything and that you have to take it on the chin when you don’t. But you have to play fair and cheats never prosper, etc, etc.
Perhaps this is why in adult life I find it baffling when faced by a fanatically competitive person. I’m not interested in knowing everyone. I’m not interested in being popular (that ship sailed a long time ago and I think my life has been all the more pleasant because of it). I’m definitely not interested in trying to outdo people. Keeping up with the Joneses? No. thanks.
So, it’s beyond me why anyone would feel the need to be seen to be more popular, more involved, more funny. I know all the old chestnuts like “it says more about them than it does about me” or “they must be insecure if they feel they have something to prove”, but it has reached a point where I find myself wanting to say “You win. I give up. I don’t want to play the game.” I would like to think that the people that know me, the people that REALLY know me will not care if I’m not responding to statuses (stati?) on Facebook or vying for attention in the school playground. I will continue to make time for the people that matter and I will not lose sight of the important stuff.
But I will not compete. Not at the age of 5 and certainly not now at the age of 42. If that makes me a loser, then at least I’ll be a gracious loser!