Most schools are very fond of competitions. I was taught that saying you hate competitions meant that you knew you were going to lose, it meant that you lack ambition and that you’re probably going to fail at life in general. It was the most demoralizing thing for people with few victories under their belts.
When I was a kid they made us play a game during PE called “Drapeau”. If you don’t know the basics here’s how it goes: Our class was divided into two teams with the same number of students. The teams would stand facing each other forming two parallel lines with the teacher in the middle holding a flag (hence, drapeau). Every student from Team 1 was assigned a number between 1 and 10, and so were the students from team 2. The teacher proceeds to blow a whistle and shout a number, let’s say 3, and the two kids from each team assigned the number 3 were to run to the teacher and snatch the flag out of his hand before the other team does. It was my personal hell.
My poor running skills were being put on full display. I was going to be ridiculed for being slower than the uncoolest kid in class, i was going to look like the biggest loser; those were things that mattered to us back then remember? My solution to this conundrum was to make one ridiculous excuse after the other to get out of playing that satanic game. I chickened out and just quit trying.
My wariness towards competitions such as this stemmed from my personal conviction that I am completely and utterly unable to win this game. I was weaker than the rest and was obviously going to lose. It made me unhappy, so i saw no point in playing. Competitions like this did not teach me to ask for help or to keep trying, it only taught me to hate the game.
Being in a race, literally or figuratively, is terrifying unless you know you’re winning, unless you have some sort of advantage over the rest. Competitions are tasks we have to endure because working together is apparently frowned upon. It’s generally accepted that only working against each other brings the best outcome. Personally, being in a competitive environment didn’t encourage or motivate me to be the best I can be, it only made it clear to me that no matter how much I tried I will still suck by comparison. It encouraged me to quit.
It amazes me that we’re still being taught to work against each other instead of together. Why are we still choosing to demotivate the 99% in order to congratulate the 1%? No wonder we’re all growing up to be such stubborn control freaks. By the time we hit our twenties we’re so used to only thinking about ourselves, we’re used to judging the people who ask for a hand because we equate it with co-dependency, we think of them as deadbeats. We want everybody else to fail because according to us the winner is the one who’s better by comparison, we covet that superiority, that ‘better than’ feeling. We itch to be that last man standing when in fact we can achieve so much more if only that winner helps the loser, otherwise known as the average kid.
Bottom line is no I’m not going to race you, I won’t run to get that flag before you, and I won’t compare myself to you. But I would love to run next to you. Maybe you could teach me how to run faster? I’ll hold your water bottle in the meantime.