Fierce Competitive Spirit

According to Darwinism, competition is among the chief driving forces of nature. Competition is what allows living organisms to thrive, prosper, and over time evolve into even more successful creatures. Aside from its biological connections, competition is an intricate part of our society as well. Competition pits people against each other, and allows them to develop skills that would otherwise go unused. How many of us are watching the Olympics at every moment? Sure, it is because we want to witness history, but it’s also because we want to see who wins.

For much of my life, I have always hated direct competition. This, however, is not because I am a gentle soul or some other noble reason for an aversion toward competing. The truth is I am one of, it not the most competitive people I know. I live to play games, and am good at them, but I am the type of petty person that is only satisfied when he is in first place. I would never throw a Monopoly board into the air in a fit of rage, but if I lost the game I would wish that I had. Throwing an embarrassing tantrum is only a moment in time that will soon pass. The knowledge that I lost, on the other hand, will eat away at me for several days.

So I am not competitive for the usual reason of being obsessed with victory. Rather, I am almost mortified at the concept of loss. If you lose, if means you are bad at something. Losing is the absolute worst.

I hate losing about as much as I hate waiting in line, and I handle both possibilities in similar fashions. If I see a line for something, chances are I will walk away before spending even two seconds in queue. Because of this policy, I will probably miss out on many great and fulfilling opportunities in life, but at least I won’t have to stand behind some strange person for far too long.

My policy towards losing is similar. If there is a situation where there is a possibility for me to lose, I will try to avoid it. The trouble is, the division between winning and losing is abstract and relative. In my mind, though, the distinction is absolute.

Winning is not losing. Ever. Winning is being the best at everything all the time, which is something no human could ever achieve. Also, once you win, you have to keep winning or else it doesn’t count. If the extra pressure causes you to lose, that just means you were never really a winner at all.

This is a very bleak and high-pressure outlook on competition. It seems the only way to win at everything is to never do anything at all. This is a path around my absolute definition of loss, and is far more effective than actually putting the infinite amount of time and practice required to be so good at everything that I could never lose.

According to Sun Tzu’s Art of War, “The smart and noble warrior always avoids outright conflict if possible and wins by using slyer means.” There is nothing slyer than never doing anything but still claiming victory because you never actually lost. In this case, though, ancient wisdom has a tough time beating the pragmatic advice of the modern lottery. “You can’t win if you don’t play.” This is the ultimate truth. No matter how you try to spin it.