When I Am Queen of Everything: Healthy Competition

When I Am Queen of Everything: Healthy Competition

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,24 February 2015

Many years ago when my niece and nephew were tee-tiny things, I went to see them play soccer.  At this match of 3-5 year olds, a grown-ass adult literally screamed at his kid that if he didn’t make the goal, he could walk home. Thankfully the kid made the goal and got to ride home in the car and I’m sure he’s a perfectly emotionally healthy man now who never had to be institutionalized.

Ah, competition. It’s born in us, right? I mean survival of the fittest means we couldn’t have survived without winning. Except all but a few crazies recognize that we also couldn’t have survived as a species if all we did was try to beat our neighbor; at some point everyone but the hypercompetitives among us recognize competition isn’t always healthy.

A friend of mine is training for a marathon to raise money to honor her friend who died from Cystic Fibrosis. She’s using an app to track her progress. Her cray cray neighbor is stalking her on this app expressly so she can run more than my friend. Seriously. This loon continually messages my friend to unblock all of her settings, saying “so that I can beat you.”

Those of you shaking your head in disbelief – that is the correct response. Those of you who are wondering what app my friend is using so that you too can join and try to beat her – you are insane in the membrane.

You can want to win and still not be a total wackmobile. Yes, in my youth I was known to overturn a Monopoly board or two when I was hopelessly behind. I got over it. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes it’s not about winning or losing; it’s just about doing.

Competition can be good. It can motivate and push you farther than you thought you could go. Taking competition to the extremes makes me think of hypercompetitive extremists. Terrorists totally compete all the time. Every group wants to be the biggest bad-ass. It used to be that if you weren’t al-Qaeda, you were nobody. Now the self-proclaimed Islamic State is the hotness. Even there, they feel the need to constantly take things up a notch. Oh, you’re not shocked by us broadcasting a beheading of one hostage? How about 21? How about we burn them alive? You’d think at some point they’d run out of horrific ideas of how to show their depravity and cowardice but that hasn’t seemed to be the case.

Maybe terrorists just need a different way to express their fears of inadequacy. ‘Cuz that’s what it is; when you have to constantly have people acknowledge that you are more successful, stronger, faster, badassier than they are, you might be better served by sitting down with a therapist to figure out why you’re such an insecure mess.

So When I Am Queen of Everything, people will have their unhealthy competitive streaks toned down. If you’re a terrorist, you’ll be given fitness monitoring devices so that you can prove who is the strongest and fastest and walk the most steps. If that’s not enough competition, you’ll be allowed to run races to raise money for legitimate charities. This will help wean you from your need to beat everyone in a way that doesn’t result in lots of dead people and wars. If you’re just a regular, non-murdery hypercompetitive, you will be taught how to knit so that you can try to knit the most scarves, hats, and sweaters, or whatever for people who need them.  If you win, you will get more yarn. If you lose, I will poke you with a knitting needle for being a complete asshat.

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Hat Tips:

Big Think, Time, Image Credit: Flickr

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