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My Competitive Nature

2012 Senior Art Show

I am a very competitive person when it comes to certain subject matters. As a child, I was extremely competitive, though I didn't express it outwardly. Nobody knew because I pretended to be cordial and carefree if I lost. However, on the inside, I was upset or fuming. I cannot pinpoint where my original competitive nature came from. Maybe because I am a Leo or my astrological chart. Maybe because of my childhood or teen years. I believe it is a combination of all of these influences.

My earliest memories of being competitive happened during my elementary school years. I believe that the behavior began when I was in the first grade. The school where I studied was a contrast from the school I had attended before. We focused on memorization, particularly of Scriptures. This was fun, because I did enjoy memorization and would memorize poetry with long verses and stories. We had competitions throughout school. There was a musical competition called "Spiritual Emphasis", costume contests, vocabulary contests and other rewards for good behavior. If you received high honors, you would receive a trophy in front of the entire school. There were levels to reach at all times and I dived into all of them.

This competitive presence didn't stop in school. Because the school was also owned by the church, it carried over into the sanctuary. We had contests in the children's church. We'd get rewarded with candy for straightening the rows, a money machine during vacation Bible school and all types of games. Financial abundance equated to spiritual abundance. There was a costume contest for Halloween. Every year, I entered and tried to win. After seven years, I went from no prize to first place (twice in a row).

I entered into art and writing contests as a child. Though nobody could see it, I deeply wanted to win and I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to lose in any aspect of my life as a child. I wanted to have high grades, be the best behaved, be the nicest person, etc. But it did not feel as if it was enough. As a teenager, I felt the same way, but a few more things to be competitive about were added to the list. I wanted to be the most successful. I wanted to be the best artist and writer. I desired to be the best in college.

At some point in time, this competitive spirit became rather overwhelming. I entered into an endless list of contests and competitions and racked up prizes, but always focused on winning. I believe I wanted to win everything. I knew it was impossible, but this did not sway me. If I lost, I felt that my skills were not up to par. If I didn't reach another person's expectations, I mentally replayed the failure in my mind.

College highlighted my issues with failure. It took me three times to pass one math class. I gave the facade that I knew what I wanted to do and where I was going, but in reality, I was still trying to figure out many things. Becoming an adult became more challenging, but I still held on to my unspoken need to win. I began pushing myself to do things. I published four books (two in one year). I made as much art as I could. I felt that if I didn't beat the year before, I had not accomplished much for that present year. I didn't want to appear like failure to anyone. I always wanted to look as if I was a rising star.

But in January 2017, my competitive nature was put to a halt. I found myself sick in bed and there was nothing I could do about it, except get better. I was so angry because I wanted to be productive but was too exhausted and ill to do anything but rest. I felt like I had gotten a slap in the face. Not only did I have no job, I was basically broke, I lost a friendship and I couldn't work on any of my goals. Laying in bed for several days made me let go. I let go of control. I didn't want to compete anymore. I didn't want to be the best at this or that. I simply wanted to be happy again.

As a result of losing, I became more gentle with myself. I realized that losing was simply delayed winning because a loss can lead you to something even better. Because I dropped my health, I became more health conscious. Because I was broke, I became more wise with my savings and spending. I don't get upset as much if something doesn't go my way anymore. I have actually gotten to the point of just living one day at a time. That is an achievement in itself.

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