Wednesday, May 16, 2012

a need to be the best .

I am an extremely competitive person. No matter what it is, I desire to be the absolute best. Some might hear that and say hey, that's a good thing. But it's such a strong desire and my competitiveness runs so deep that often I am even willing to cheat to be the best (more so when I was little, rather than now). I don't know where it comes from, as to my knowledge neither of my parents are this way, and I don't really think that it lives in either of my siblings either. But I know that a fire burns within me.

With all of the sports I have dabbled in or invested myself fully in, I have strived to be the best: the one that you can count on in the clutch, the one that is the fastest, has the most endurance, the best kicks/swings/throws/shot. The one that is physically the biggest and can jump the highest. I absolutely detest losing. Even worse, if it is my fault, I beat myself up about it for weeks. I have since learned to control my external emotions so as not to affect my game (actually, I don't show any emotion whatsoever, good or bad reactions, just to keep things simple) because I know how much shittier it used to make my game when I would get upset when I was younger.

But with this desire comes a need. A need, in many cases of many sports, to have equipment. And there is something in me that wants to have the best gear, to aid in my being the best. Sometimes I'll just tell myself it's the equipment's fault as an excuse, but then quickly remind myself that it is the player and the person, not the stuff you buy.

However, good gear can make life a hell of a lot easier. In soccer, your shin guards can be lighter. In basketball, your shoes can have better grip. In baseball, you can have a bigger and softer glove that doesn't hurt your hand so much, and your bat can be better aluminum. In cycling or mountain biking you can have the latest suspension system, the lightest carbon fiber body and components, the least turbulent helmet and the biggest and roughest wheels and tires money can buy.

Recently I've been looking into buying a kayak (along with a PFD and a paddle) to bring down with me to school next year. We're living on the lake, and have our own boat dock, and I want to make good use of it. Naturally, when I started my research into what sort of kayak I'd like to buy (I had no idea there were so many options in the first place) I found that this sport could get expensive awfully fast. Needless to say, I went and started clicking through the 17' and 18' boats made out of composite kevlar and fiberglass, boats that cost well over 1000 dollars. I don't need that. I don't even know if I'll like the sport entirely. I've been before, but never on anything long term. I taught myself about rudders, tracking, hull shape, length, water lines; shit I could write you a book on kayaking now (that's a total complete lie). In the end I decided that something around the 500 dollar range would do. Maybe I can find something used. We'll see.

Why am I so obsessed with this though? This notion that I need to be perfect? When I go on group cycling rides I push myself to the limit and beyond it. I would probably almost risk injury if I didn't have any common sense (luckily there's some of that in my head somewhere). When my body fails to perform, whether it's just because I'm out of shape or not feeling well or the other guys are on a totally different level, this is what drives me to be better. People wonder how I am so motivated to hit the gym all the time, to lift, bike, run, whatever it takes to be in good shape (err.. with the exception of nutrition...). It's because in the gym I want to be the strongest guy there. On the bike I want to be the fastest, I want to be able to climb with the 100 pound guys and sprint with the 200 pound guys. These expectations are not possible!! And I know that; and yet it is still the driving force, the competitive spirit in my nature.

I have no idea how to wrap up this post. I love good sport and good competition, and I'm glad I'm motivated. Sometimes I just feel like it's a little much.


  1. I remember reading something really interesting about competiveness once in regards to Michael Jordan. His teammates said that he was extremely competitive at literally everything that he did. Even checkers!! One of the former teammates said that they would all sometimes play checkers for fun and that if he lost he would get over-the-top angry. That ultra competitiveness likely made him the greatest player ever. Interesting stuff.

  2. Competitiveness is strong with this one, too. I was a MENACE in highschool about being the BEST vocalist, the BEST English student, the BEST person on student council. I wanted to be the best at everything- the problem was that I sort of succeeded. I walked out of that place with every accolade possible. Teachers joked that I ran the school. In some ways, I did.

    For me, when I got to university, I realized pretty quick that wasn't going to be the case anymore. I was a big fish thrown into an even bigger pond. It drove me nuts.

    I'm not sure I have any words that are useful to you, only that I sometimes think about how "okay, maybe I can't be the best, but that doesn't mean I'm the worst."

    I'm not gonna lie to you, it took me some therapy to understand that I could not be the best at something and still be worth something. It sucked. I too have no idea where this tendency came from- my family is all pretty chill.

    Perfectionism can make you successful, but it is not fun. Thank you for this honest post.

    PS I mentioned the ninja turtles in one of my photo posts yesterday mostly for you to enjoy it.

    1. I totally noticed! Thanks for that! Sorta made my day. One of my favorite shows as a kid. Nice to hear there are others out there that get all hot and bothered when they can't win. Haha.

  3. My strive for perfection is sending me crazy. I am good at most things, but certainly not the best. This failure is really affecting my personal life. Money is a problem, as I cannot buy anything that is not "the best" or at least really high quality. My gf is amazing, but I'm always looking for excuses why she's not the best, but the biggest issue is I get so jealous of my gf liking other people better than me. I am scared to death that previous lovers are better, I am so jealous of her enjoying spending time with friends, as I don't want her to have more fun than she does with me.

    One thing I am good at is keeping things to myself, so my gf doesn’t know these things, but it is really starting to affect my mind.


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