I’ve been spending a little bit of time tonight wading through the backlog of my Google Reader, trying to catch up on everything that I have missed over the past couple of weeks. An excerpt from Shapely Prose reads:
I know that some people genuinely thrive on competition, and more power to them — but the problem is, in a capitalist society, people who thrive on competition are held up as gods, and those of us with more Ferdinandy dispositions are dismissed as lazy, useless, undisciplined, etc. It’s awfully hard to advance in any career if you don’t want to compete, and it’s awfully hard to make enough money to live on if you don’t advance, so coming in last because you felt like walking instead of running isn’t much of an option. And if you do stop to walk because the running is killing you, or refuse to fight because you’d much rather sit and smell flowers, the whole culture makes sure you know what a freak you are.
I always seem to find things at this blog that hit the nail on the head for me. I was just thinking today about competition in reference to my martial arts. I am not a competitive person – I hated team sports because I wasn’t very good at them and I never had the drive to win. I have participated in one tournament, back when I was an orange belt, and I disliked it. I didn’t like the feeling before competing, I didn’t have any drive to win when I was competing, and afterwards I wondered what exactly all the fuss was about. I like learning new skills and I like realizing that I can now do things that I couldn’t do previously, or see progress in my skills, but I really don’t care how I stack up against other people. Winning a medal against strangers doesn’t mean anything to me. Winning a sparring match in the dojo doesn’t mean anything to me. Losing doesn’t either. I just don’t have that competitive drive.
I’m perfectly happy to tootle along at my own speed but others don’t understand how I can not be competitive. I don’t know how to explain it to them – I can give examples like letting my brother cheat at board games when we were little because winning was really important to him and not at all important to me. But no matter what I say, I still get the strange look and I know that the other person is thinking that the reason I don’t like competition is because I’m either a) lazy or b) not confident enough in my skills. As if suddenly I am going to wake up one day and realize that yes, I should compete because now I have a good shot at winning! And winning is clearly what it is all about so – go get those medals!
I’m trying hard to find my own motivation that will carry me through my intense training for black belt grading, because wanting to come first is not a motivation for me. And it’s unfortunate because no one at the dojo understands how this can be, and seem to think that if they just push me a little harder, one day I will wake up with that edge. If I’ve made it to 28 without giving a damn about coming in first, I don’t somehow think being badgered about it is going to have any effect.