Wanna Play?

I’ve lived and breathed competitive sports for most of my life, but I’m surprisingly not that competitive.

Whoa! To those of you who know me and are yelling at the screen, hear me out. I love competing—games, sports, anything with an opponent (I also think smack-talk is a sport in and of itself. YES, even during board games.) It’s just that my favorite part of it all is the ride itself. I rarely get bent out of shape about losing, if the game’s been fun.

Side Note: I actually win a lot.

When I say I’m not overly competitive, I mean not in the way you hear about certain people—where you barely recognize them. You know, the ones who will stop at nothing to win even the most inane argument, like how many of Grisham’s books have “The” in the title? I mean really, if you have to Google it, then you didn’t win. Google won.

Google: 1
You And Anyone Searching For the Answer Anywhere But Their Brain Vault: 0.

I refuse to accept that the look of satisfaction on your face is because you were the fastest Googler. You’re better than that.

carrollstrut

I’ve heard many stories about people getting competitive with their workouts. Just regular fully grown adults who workout to stay fit. You’ll never hear about me running on a treadmill, sneaking a peek at the screen of the person to my right and adjusting my speed so I’m running faster—because here is the thing:

1. We’re not actually racing. We’re on a conveyor belt that leads to a land called nowhere.
2. I don’t care, even in the slightest, what you’re doing.
3. Because this warrants repeating: We’re not racing.

Side Note: I could have stopped the original sentence after “You’ll never hear about me running on a treadmill” because while I triple-love being active, I have to PLAY … racquetball, flag football, catch, tag, softball, in the pool … anything not in the monotonous family.

I laugh because sometimes Jocelyn will come home from a run and appear a little extra amped up as she guzzles water—telling me about the three people she beat. I cock my head, wondering if this calls for a high five or dap of some sort, but I’m too confused about why her run turned into a race at all. I usually think I’ll lay the conversation to rest by simply asking, “Did they know you were racing?” But she’ll catch her breath and reply with peaceful satisfaction, “No, but I did.”

See? I don’t have that need. I can’t fathom a day where I’d be on a run and thinking about anything other than how I’m going to make the torture stop. I wouldn’t even know who I passed or was getting passed by, because my one singular.laser.focus would be to get the suffering over with.

I know people (oh how I know people) who want to win everything … from games to arguments to how many shiny things they own. When I imagine that type of brain or outlook, it exhausts me. It must be so emotionally draining to feel the need to “win”—if we can even call reading a trilogy the quickest—winning.

competition

I’m trying to conjure up that existence and how it would feel if I “lost” at a few random things. I’m imagining:

  • Getting rip-roaring mad if my sister-in-law is able to open the jar of pickles I couldn’t. I’d huff around, saying under my breath, “Hmph, must be nice to have never fractured the thumb that helps you grip.”
  • Feeling completely defeated if I couldn’t swat the aggravating fly on the patio, but my dad could. “Yeah-yeah, go ahead and cheer him on, see if I care—he’s wayyy older than I am so he’s had more practice. Like, decades.”
  • Being livid if I can’t get my niece to stop crying but her mom can. “Whatever. That’s such an unfair advantage since you provided her an umbilical cord in your womb. Must be nice to have connections.”

I’m bone-tired just picturing it!

I mean, I have a healthy amount of drive, but it seems to stick close to me—living in and around my own personal goals. I rarely wonder how I can get what someone else has (unless it’s a big crock pot of buffalo chicken dip, then all bets are off because I WANTS.)

It's impossible to be unhappy when this exists.

It’s impossible to be unhappy when this exists.

But on the off-chance I do want what another person has … I don’t want to take it from them, I just want it, too.

  • Oh, you have a vacation home on the Italian Riviera? I hope to one day, too—do you have any advice?
  • Oh, you have a kegerator with perfectly cold, carbonated beer at the ready at all times? Where might I purchase this treasure?
  • Oh, you only have to visit your gynecologist once every three years? Is she taking new patients?

I’m much more competitive when it comes to team sports. I really love strategizing, working and winning as a team. I also like knowing that the losing team can pick each other up and have some help getting over the loss—unlike a tennis player or gymnast who loses and just has to sit there with her own stupid losing self.

tennis1

I never thought it was fun to beat someone one-on-one. Well wait, except tether ball. In elementary school, I was unstoppable and enjoyed the perks of tether stardom. But winning a dance off or Checkers made me feel no more good than bad. Even in racquetball, which I love, I prefer cutthroat or doubles, because it means 3-4 of us are playing—which cuts down on the awkwardness of winning or losing.

Winning is winning—we’ve all done it and it doesn’t suck. Losing is losing—we’ve all survived getting beat. But what I love is the journey … the game itself. Whether it’s a sport or a board game or air hockey, the most fun part to me is the process and every step leading up to the end. The outcome is relatively unimportant if it’s been fun.

Side Note: My sister does not feel this way and won’t hesitate to gain a suspicious advantage at every turn. And by gain a suspicious advantage, I mean cheat. Let me give you an example. Every Easter my fun, awesome parents have an adult Easter egg hunt for us “kids”, where they place gift cards in big plastic eggs and get our nieces and nephew to help hide them.

We’re quarantined during the hiding process, then let out and corralled until they say, “Go!” Well last time, right when the light was green and we bolted out, my sister “pantsed” me—putting me back a good 30 seconds and scarring my nephew for life.

I thought there was a lesson in all this for my sister, when I still scored iTunes, Home Depot and Amazon, but no … 4th of July weekend she was caught pinching our niece during 3-on-3 when we were one hoop away from winning.

Bottom line: I love sports, games, competing and playing. I enjoy winning but can handle losing if we’ve had a good time getting there, even if—especially if—I start out with no pants.

I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.

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28 thoughts on “Wanna Play?

  1. Another VERY funny blog. I’ll keep my mouth shut about how you wouldn’t even speak after a high school basketball game. I won’t even mention it. Hey, that’s what dads are for!
    Love reading your blog. Love your quirky sense of humor. Love you.

    • Oh man—weren’t those fun days? But you have to admit I was better after college games, right? I grew up (and we won a lot more in college!) I’m glad you love it 🙂 I love you, too!

  2. THIS: “I don’t care, even in the slightest, what you’re doing.” (Thisssss so much, to everyone out there). And THIS: “I can’t fathom a day where I’d be on a run and thinking about anything other than how I’m going to make the torture stop.”

    LOL, co-signed and nodding head fiercely in agreement. Perfect post!

  3. I may be like Jocelyn on the treadmill…maybe?! However, I do like competing against myself the most.if I run 25 minutes at 6.2, I’d like to try and run 27 minutes at 6.3 the next time.

    I will admit that it drives me absolutely nuts when friends on facebook post, “I just got back from the best ten-mile run ever.” Followed by, “training for my fifth half-marathon” the next day….and then, a few days later, “I am so sore because I ran seven miles, did a cross fit workout, mowed the lawn, folded laundry, pulled weeds and made breakfast all before 8:00 am.” Are they trying to compete with the rest of us?! Trying to look impressive?! I don’t know, but I usually block them from my feed.

    Can I come to next years Easter Egg hunt? I promise that I won’t pull down your pants…maybe your sisters, but I really just want the goods.

    • Pardon the mistakes (sister’s being one of many)…typing too quickly on the iPad (lest I be judged). Also, I did hit the screen once and yelled, “What?” after the initial paragraph.

      • LOL, glad you hit the screen 🙂 There is just no conceivable way I can let others in on our prized Easter egg hunt. But I promise to email and let you know what I score next time 😉

        • Fine, but I may just steal the idea…so, reflective of your entry…thanks for the great idea (vs. I now have to think of something even better than her parents for Easter then write a blog about it to prove my idea was much better). 🙂

  4. You are supeer active with allthose sports you play. I am super jealous! Flag football? Raquetball? Now i have to come up with 7 sports I play so I am better than you! (kidding) Your post reminds me of a childhood friend that I learned sprortsmanship from. Yea, we too loved to win but sometimes other people Need to win. It doesn’t matter that you are better than them. Allowing someone else to win is ‘winning’ too. And that, my dear, is why I never lose. 🙂 Great post Anna! It doesn’t mean tht I’m not still jealous!

  5. I always thought my lack of involvement in team sports (um, or any sports at all) is what led to my non-competitive streak. But I love your theory here! I love to PLAY games, but I don’t care who wins! In fact, once, when I was playing Texas Hold ‘Em with Mike’s family and I was in the lead to take a big pot of cash, I got so stressed out I started sweating. LOL

    • Wellllll, I might care a smidge more than you do if I win … you truly DON’T CARE in any way, shape or form! But you are also a blast to play things with … so that’s a win, right?

  6. LOVE IT!!! Still laughing about you getting pantsed (spelling:( pantsd? pants-ed? pantsed? de-pantsed?). We too did an adult only Easter egg hunt where my sister and I would push each other out of the way to be the first out the door. Easter of 1997 was no less combative even though we were both pregnant 🙂

  7. Loved your post. I don’t ever remember you kids getting upset or overly competitive when you were building and competing on obstacle courses or even with the nunchuck (proper spelling nunchaku)competitions you and Tedie had. Ha ha

  8. I am competitive only in the things that I know I can win…. Every other time I say that winning means nothing if you did your best. When my kids were little, they used to always ask me if I won the race when I would do a,half marathon….I would always joke and say that I couldn’t beat all those Kenyans….but I came in seventh! Now they’re old enough to know I’m lying. Funny story! Love it!

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