I believe in competition. Every day I push myself to go beyond the expectations set by others and even myself. This characteristic, though creating stress, adds incentive and interest to every sphere of my life.
Competition has always been a part of who I am. Ever since I was six years old I have played in tennis tournaments and I have always hated to lose. In my very first tournament, at Kenwood Country Club, I lost both of my matches. I was devastated. I sprinted into my parents arms, eyes filled with tears. I saw the winner with his trophy, and knew how much I wanted to be in his place. My parents encouraged me to get back on my feet. That same 100°F day, I went back on the court to practice because getting demolished the next year was not on my agenda. This tournament was my introduction to formal competition. I learned how to pursue a goal and how working hard would control my destiny.
In the last ten years, I have continued to compete. But now, instead of participating in the “Kenwood Country Club” tournaments, I have begun to travel across the country. None of this came easily. For whole weekends, months and years I challenged myself to reach the edge of my endurance. Though I was, and continue to be, angry after any losses, I have matured from a crying preteen. At those times I was unable to sustain a normal conversation for a short time after the match. As I grew older, I learned to control my feelings. After I lose, I hang out with friends instead of stamping around the club complaining. Competition taught me to deal with losses gracefully, and to treat wins humbly.
I have also had to strive to meet the academic criteria. In each class, I see every day as a new challenge. This is especially true in my French class. Allison and I, who are friends outside of class, become mortal enemies once we enter the classroom. When our tests are returned, we immediately look at each other’s papers rather than our own. Though this particular competition sounds ridiculous, it drives both of us to improve.
Competition brings out the ugly side in many, but I benefit from it. Because of the spirit of competition, I have more desire to be at the top of my game – academically and athletically.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.