I am a really competitive person. Like competitive to the point that I might not be considered a desirable guest at a friendly game night. It’s a characteristic that is innate to my personality. A spark I was born with that exploded over the course of my childhood growing up with three brothers and playing soccer from the time I was eight years old through college. It’s not so much about material things, but more that I am consistently challenging myself to be the best and do more. My head is always in the game, seeking out ambitious people or goals to surround myself with. I focus on preparation, arriving early, and implementing strategies. I know how to get it done. It is often my main source of motivation, even in terms of mundane activities. For example, if we’re putting the groceries away together, I will put more away than you and I will do it with record speed. BAM! I just beat you at a contest that you didn’t even know you were participating in, but still – WINNING! (Hope you enjoyed that sneak peek into my craziness.)
However, like most personality traits, the pendulum swings both ways. It’s nearly impossible to turn my competitive appetite ‘off’. I often feel challenged by simple innocuous statements. I am rigid in my independent perspective and can become instantly defensive upon confrontation. Any substantial discussions are a sentence fragment away from becoming a battle because I struggle with seeing different viewpoints as constructive critiques – instead, I see them as fighting words tests and I will not let you beat me. I keep score. Big time. And my record books are meticulous. It’s unfortunate that the people closest to me are the ones that are most likely to be subjected to these arguments. As you can imagine, these tendencies are not welcome in marriage or translate well into a parenting mantra as we all deserve for our voices to be heard and our needs met.
With the burden of this “me vs. them” mentality weighing me down on the daily, it’s easy for me to forget that compromising is a strength, not a weakness. Are squabbles over an extra snack or whose turn it is to wash the dishes worth going to war over? The answer is an easy and resounding: NO. Still, during an average and everyday home life scenario, my blood will be boiling, I’m seconds from exploding and if I’m lucky I will take a breath and hear the quiet voice passing through my brain like the ticker on the NYSE flashing across the trading floor:
You’re on the same team.
Like two teammates who just realized they are fighting over the same 50/50 ball, the situation is diffused. I am reminded that life truly isn’t a competition and more specifically, I shouldn’t be clashing with my people for the sake of being crowned champion of the cul-de-sac. We all share the same goal of a peaceful and harmonious existence.
Last week I pulled muscles in my back so badly that I was 100% out of commission for three days. Needless to say, I had to pass the buck on the entirety of household tasks and child care related duties. I felt defeated. Surely, I was a loser for not being able to carry my own weight (literally!!). And yet, the Earth kept spinning. Kids were delivered to school. Dinners were served. Bedtime stories were read. I was well taken care of and on the road to recovery. My husband and little ones came together, put on their rally caps and pulled out a win for our whole family. Victory has never been so sweet.