I have always hated losing. I have always known myself to be competitive as well. I know competition brings the best out of me – that is what made me so good at Football, constantly competing with my brother who probably has similar mindset while growing up. Our competitiveness made us soar far above everyone else in that endeavor where I am from. How far above everyone else? Well, in the last game we played, me and my brother teamed up with two others to play against seven of the rest. That is four on seven. Surely we got our asses handed to us?
No way. We absolutely crushed them, the most devastating victory I can remember from the years of playing football in my home village – the final score was 49-8. Both me and my brother scored over 20 goals, the other two people in our team were mere fillers in comparison. So to say competition brings the best out of me would be an understatement to say the least.
I have always known that, but to what extent only dawned me yesterday. You see, my life has been kind of bereft of competition since I have left Finland. I guess the most important competition we have is the eternal me against me battle, but as said, it has always been pitting myself against others that has drawn all the resources out of me.
To what extent I am ready to go to achieve the victory? Well, as I learned yesterday, I want to win so bad I am willing to destroy my health in the process. I will ignore pain, total exhaustion, and drain myself completely just to not lose.
Bangkok is brutally hot at the moment so heading down to the park to practice a little bit footy is always gonna be bit tiring, but still when I am just doing tricks on my own with the ball on my own, it never gets close to being too much for me.
Enter few young guys asking me to play with them. There were three of them, and they looked like they were in their teens. I shrugged and thought why not. Its probably been two years since I played against other people due to my travels and then injuries following.
But the stage was set, 2 on 2 football just for fun – yet even that was enough of a stage for me to not allow myself to lose. I don’t know what it is, maybe it is an ego thing, but on one hand I don’t think so, cause it does not seem like there is no thinking involved in it. It is just that once I enter into competition, I just automatically will do everything to beat the others.
Now if you know anything about 2 on 2 football, it means there is no respite from running cause both sides only have two players. So the draining heat combined with the fact that I have not played regularly in a long time meant I was in for an epic gassing. Early on the game, I rounded off my opponent to slot in an easy goal to the empty goal, but after that sprint I already felt massive amounts of lactic acid in my muscles. If this was me in 2010, just few breaths, little jogging and it would have all cleared up. But this is not peak performance me, this is me slowly recovering from back injury -me that has not done any intensive cardio that induces such massive lactic acid build-up in years.
Yet, there was that competitive spirit that would not allow me to quit. Sure, I stopped running all the time and just gasped for breath, but if there was a hope of goal, hope of getting the ball, any glimpse of opportunity – it would be full sprint again. We were playing on the pavement, yet that did not stop me from throwing myself onto the ground in attempt to block a goal bound shot. Adrenaline made sure I did not feel the pain.
I am not writing this to brag about myself. It is more that yesterday was awakening of something that has been missing from my life for a long time. In the end there is not even anything to brag, for after my easily slotted opening goal, we conceded three goals and lost the match. I am not even sure if anyone else was counting them, but for me it has always mattered. Is it an ego thing? I don’t know. All I know is that it matters to me, and win or lose it makes me feel alive. I strive to compete, and I thrive in competition.
I heard a whistle, I did not know what it meant but the kids left. For once I did not lament losing too much, for chasing the win would have probably killed me. I was more relieved that the match ending would allow my pride to rest. I staggered to the stairs where I left my water bottle, took a sip of water and gathered my gear. For the next couple of hours I felt like I was gonna die from the heat. My face was red, and I don’t think it was sunburn (it being gone now and all). Cold shower and couple of hours later I finally started feeling normal again, but not without remembering how much more competition gets out of me. Perhaps too much in this case, when I do not know my limits in the extreme heat and bump up the intensity too much, but nonetheless it was a powerful moment of self-(re)discovery.
Since that moment last night I have been thinking about my competitiveness and relating it to most things I am good at. I love poker, for instance, and while I chose not to pursue that as my main path, it is a competitive thing that made it very natural for me to become competent at it.
I loved competing so much, I even made things like dream recall and lucid dreaming competitive things. I never made writing into such, guess my creativity flowed enough to not needing to compete to get it done – yet now I wonder if I would have gotten even more done if I was competitive about that though.
But I obviously don’t fully know myself yet. This competitive spirit is kind of elusive as well. If I am in direct competition like a football match, obviously it comes out. It also comes out when I am playing video games with my friends. But most of life, I don’t feel competitive. I don’t feel necessary to make more money than my neighbor, or whatever. I don’t feel competitive compared to the average man, or needing to compete in social status and material possessions. That is all intangible for my competitive spirit, and I think for sake of my overall happiness, that is good. As a logical guy, though, seeing how it really drives me to the next level, I start thinking of the applications of this competitiveness, and makes me wonder how to inject more of it into my life.
For instance, my work is already competitive to begin with. I am in direct competition with my teammates, as our quantity and quality of work is compared against each other. Yet, I do not feel the slightest inkling of a competitive spirit in my work, which is why my income has not increased over the years. So what blocks it? The feeling that I cannot beat them? Just not caring about this form of competing? Not knowing who I am against? I know them by name, but I have never personally met any of these people.
As said, usually I also feel competitive when playing video games with my friends. Yet lately even when I play a new game with my friend I have not felt much of a competitive spirit. Perhaps cause I am a beginner in the game and he has some experience, or maybe cause I haven’t quite gotten into it, but once again the competitive spirit has been elusive. If I don’t care, I don’t care. But what triggers me to care?
Ultimately I don’t have answers. I wish I had, cause I figure this is something that could change my life for the better. Having seen the power of this mysterious competitive spirit on me, I wish I could just turn it on at will, but it is some kind of subconscious trigger that I am yet to fully understand and manipulate.