From the outside you probably wouldn't have noticed as I really wasn't much different to look at than what you would see today, except perhaps a little more frazzled from trying to hold it all together. It was what was going on inside my head that was causing the damage. The angst, the turmoil and the anxiety that came with me being competitive in my day to day life.
It was after I missed out on a job opportunity at work that I came to the realisation that I battle enough with the insecurities within myself, without exasperating it by comparing myself to others. When I compare, I doubt. I end up focusing on what skills I don't have, or where I am lacking within myself rather than focusing on all the wonderful things that I am. Comparison can take me from feeling on top of the world and totally loving life in one minute, to feeling empty and completely deflated the next. As a kid I never much fancied seesaws and as an adult, nothing much has changed there.
Having children opened me up to a whole new world of competitiveness and a lot of it came from other mums. My child is crawling - is yours? My son can say mama - can yours? My daughter can count to frigging 50 in 7 different languages - can yours? Not only did I want to throttle these woman who were making me feel inadequate as a parent, I wanted to slap them for making me feel like my own child was inferior to theirs. See .... there is a that dark side of my own personal competitiveness that I am talking about. It creates a beast in me that is damn near impossible to control.
Since I became a mum, I have changed. I am nothing at all like the woman I was pre children and for that I am glad. Those kids changed something in me and it cant be unchanged, and more to the point, I don't want it to be unchanged. I am comfortable with who I have become and I personally enjoy the lack of competitiveness I have chosen in my life.
With my own kids, I don't want to discourage them from being competitive - to a point. They need to understand about triumphs and heartache. But I want them to be able to isolate the joy of being part of something rather than just the winning. Their soccer or Rugby team may be get flogged in a competition, but they were a part of a combined effort and the experience of that is the prize in itself.
Even something like the recent Kidspot challenges would have totally sent the old me into a tail spin. However I have proven to myself that I can now participate in things like this without doubting myself or comparing myself to others. I can just enjoy being a part of something exciting without all my focus being on the finish line and I know the ride itself can be THE BEST part of it all.
What is right for me though should in no way be mistaken as a judgement upon anyone who enjoys the thrill of competition. There is no one size fits all when it comes to people and I believe there is a place in this world for all of us. Let's face it, the world would not function without those who are brave enough to be competitive. The incredible sportsmen and women who compete for a living, professionals who compete in their career, writers who compete in the world of publishing, and the individuals who compete to have their voice and their opinions heard - they inspire and they are brave enough to lead us. I admire them and I respect them, but after 39 years I can finally say, I just no longer need to be them.
I'm not naive - I know this approach may not get me as far in life as my old competitive approach would, but I am more than ok with that. I also know this way may not be right for my children either, they need to make that choice for themselves. But I can tell you that these days I am more confident in myself and never have I doubted my own ability in anything, less than I do today.
For better or worse, I am who I am, and these days I am someone who wants to belong, not necessarily stand out. I am happy being a part of something rather than being the centre of it. I am not lazy nor am I a quitter, I'm just choosing to close my eyes and quietly enjoy the dance.
So be competitive..... or not! Just do what is right by you and don't be afraid of being judged for your choice. There is room for us all. Whatever makes you happy and allows you to smile, that's your winning style, so wear it proudly!
Have you ever found competitiveness lead you in a direction you didn't want to go?
How did you handle those Competitive mums who liked to brag about their 6mth old geniuses? Have you ever actually slapped one?
Have I just revealed too much about myself that you didn't really need to know... yet again?