When asked in a group setting to divulge one thing about me that most people wouldn't know, I generally reveal this: I am extremely competitive. The first reaction of others is usually "well, that's not really a surprise." But they are often confusing "driven" with "competitive." Yes, I am driven. People know that I make goals and work hard to accomplish them. I worked my tail off to get good grades in school. If I set my mind to something I get it done.
But that isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about being so competitive that I was tossed from church basketball tournaments (or pulled from the court by an attentive coach before it got to that point!) I'm talking about crying at a Field hockey game because my team lost in the finals again - the year after I graduated from the school. I'm talking about the rush I get when playing a board game and my strict adherence (and forcing others to adhere) to all the rules.
It got to the point that now I don't like to engage in anything competitive. Because I truly do love to play sports and board games; these are two of my favourite pastimes. I just hated the way I felt when we were playing to win.
I'm usually okay with games that rely heavily on strategy or intellect and less on chance. A game like "Snakes and Ladders" sends me into a spiral, since it is purely luck of the dice. Trivial Pursuit, on the other hand, although it includes dice, relies on your own general knowledge, and so this is a game I play often. I only play Scrabble if we don't keep score, instead simply trying to spell the most unusual words and make the most unique plays. I can't stand those mocking red "triple word score" boxes that let someone score 30 points on the word "zoo." I also have a really hard time playing sports with people who don't have a basic skill level of the game. Oh - I don't want to keep score while on the volleyball court, but I do want to set up some plays and get a really good rally going.
It's terrible, I know. But it's part of my inner fabric. I don't think I will ever rid myself of these character weakness, but I think I have triumphed over the negative side of it by not allowing myself to get into situations that will bring out that side of it. I had a good laugh the other day as I listened to author and speaker Sheri Dew share a story from her childhood, about a baseball game in which she, as self-appointed captain, began to ream her team out as they made errors that were costing them the game. Sheri Dew is a fantastic leader, a driven businesswoman, and an inspiration to listen to. She has clearly mastered this competitive over-drive, and had "weak things be made strong" within her, through her spiritual journey.
What was interesting, as a mother, the other day was to see this characteristic manifest itself in Colin. Colin likes a race, if he knows he can win. If he doesn't win, he will dissolve in tears and "put up a sign" that says "no racing" any longer. Last night we were hyping the boys up for Family Home Evening and a game of Bingo. Colin unexpectedly and quite stubbornly put his foot down and said he was not playing Bingo. We were surprised, since the boys always catch our excitement about something new. It turned out he had played Bingo at school at some point, and very clearly remembered that someone wins and others don't. There was no way he was going to play if there was a chance he might not win. (Perhaps he also realized, on a subconscious level, that Bingo is one of those games of chance, where nothing you do influences whether you win or lose!) He finally agreed to play when James said we would call out squares until everyone got a Bingo. This came on the heels of a game this past weekend of "Snakes and Ladders," which Colin would only play if he and James played the same player, so that there was only one man on the board.
I love tucking away pieces of insight like this, as they help me to raise, shape, and direct my children as they grow.
(Postscript: please don't think I don't want to play sports or board games with you anymore, my friends! On the contrary - I love a good game, and hopefully I've managed to convince you that the scary side of my competitive nature lies dormant within me.)