I’ve been thinking a lot about the word competition. So much so, that it has taken me two weeks to write this blog post.
Compete (verb): strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same.
My husband is a football coach for the United States Naval Academy. He and his players tediously prepare for their game each week. They dissect film in dark rooms for hours upon hours. They study past games, past coaches, past meetings. They prepare strategies against each tendency. Then they study and practice some more until it’s gameday and time to perform. They know exactly who their opponent is, what they are capable of and if they have won or lost to them in the past. They are as prepared as they can possibly be for each game.
I’ve been thinking about the word competition when it comes to daily life. I saw the movie “Bad Moms” recently which highlighted the competition between women and moms to be the best, “establishing superiority over other who are trying to do the same.” There’s a “keeping up with the Joneses” competition in society to have the best cars, houses, STUFF. And as back to school approaches, we are reminded of the competition between parents to send their kids to the best schools, prepare them to excel in sports and to get into the best colleges.
Competition is pretty damn exhausting.
I posted a quote on social media last week that describes my feeling on competition: “If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.”
I know I’m only 35, but I’ve lived enough life to know that I have absolutely no desire to compete in the society’s competition. I don’t care if you handmade all of your kids Halloween costumes while planning their flawless birthday party and create DIY Pinterest projects each week. That is awesome, but I suck at that stuff, and I am fine with it. I don’t care if you have the entire fall line of Tory Burch. I am happy with my stuff. Some of it is old. Some of it is new. I don’t wear 90% of it because I am in workout gear or pajamas for most of my life, and I am fine with that. I am happy with my level of parenting. I crush it in the kitchen (I know my strengths), but I can’t take my daughter to her weekly gym class and see every new thing that she does exactly when she does it, because I work and I have a full-time nanny. I am happy with my effort to do as much as I can in my family to be a supportive wife and mom. I don’t need to do more or be more or have more just because you do. I am so grateful that I have that peace of mind and my society competition meter is broken. I also know enough about myself to know that if that meter every gets “fixed” one day and I start to compete with you to have your stuff or to do more and to try to be perfect in everything that I do, that something is seriously wrong inside of me. I know, for me, that inner peace is an inside job, so if I start to compete with you, then something is not right on my inside.
In the dark hours of the past 11 weeks that I have been training for this competition, I’ve had to channel that inner peace when I’ve wanted to blow it all on some cake. I’ve had to stop and think WHY I started down this path 11 weeks ago. I WANTED this challenge. I chose it. My husband reminds me of that when I complain about my lack of cake. (He is currently singing a song in the kitchen as I am typing this: “Who likes hot dogs more than me? No one. No one.” I can’t make this shit up).
I have no opponents to study, no film to watch, no previous meetings to compare my performance to. It’s just me. When I step on stage on November 19th, I could be competing against 5 women or 50 women. I could be competing against newbies or stage veterans. I have no idea.
So as my father-in-law, a former dual-sport college coach, reminded me last week, “You just have to train like everyone else is training harder.”
Have you ever had to channel that inner motivation during some dark hours in your training? Maybe you’re trying to lose the last 5 pounds of your baby weight. Maybe you’re trying to lose 30 pounds that I have crept up on you slowly over the years after some stressful life changes. Maybe you want to maintain your weight but you really want to grow those beautiful muscles.
Whatever your goal is, I challenge you to compete against one person only: YOURSELF. Look in the mirror. That is your competition.
Say no to the comparing game on social media as you scroll through your IG news feed. Say no to feeling inferior to the PTA mom that “makes it all look easy.” Say no to the endless pressure that we all put on ourselves to do everything perfectly.
Just try to be better than the person YOU were yesterday. Wake up, and do the very best that you can each day. Some days that’s getting out the door without spilling coffee on your shirt. Some days that’s crushing your workout and your nutrition, and getting 8 hours of sleep. Just honor yourself. You are enough. Now go out there and crush it.