Jack - Clarendon Hills, Illinois
Entered on February 16, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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Competition, win or lose, is an educational experience. Regarding his long and troublesome conquest of creating a lightbulb, Thomas Edison once said, “ I have not failed 1000 times, I have successfully discovered 1000 ways not to make a lightbulb. I take this idea into play when I turn everything into a competition. Even when I lose, I do not consider it truly losing; instead I have learned how not to win. Competition rules and dominates my life, from conversing with my mom, to actually physically competing in athletics. In high school, I have witnessed the many trends of people, and the one thing that has always stood out to me is the fact that competition is always a win-win situation. I am one of those people who turns everything into a competition. When I was little, my sister would take advantage of this ardent competitiveness.

My best friend was my neighbor from two doors down. He was my sister’s age but I would not stand to ever let him outdo me in anything. One day in particular we were doing a very peculiar competition. My sister had suggested that we would dive through a plastic hula hoop. She would hold it higher and higher, and my friend would jump. Then I would follow and try to go higher.

So, here I was, literally jumping through hoops on a hot summer day. After hitting the ground hard, I stopped and asked myself, “Why?” I sat and thought, “Maybe I should throw in the towel and call it a day.” But at that moment my neighbor flew through the ring, and I was not about to let him show me up, so I had to get up and do one better. Lean is not a word that would best describe me. Jumping through a hoop is an activity that I would have shown more success with, had dropped a few pounds. I was not about to slim down in the run up to the hoop, so I could only do the best I could. I approached the hoop doing what seemed like thirty miles per hour, then I leapt directly into the hoop. It hit my head first, then got caught in my stomach and I belly flopped to the ground with absolutely no grace.

Looking back at it, it would seem like I would regret that experience. In my mind, however, it was all in the value of competition. If I had never tried to jump through a hula hoop that was that high, I still would not know if I could have done it. I believe in competition. I know that if I fail, lose, or even come in second, the next time I face that challenge, I will master it. I believe that if I look at everything as a competition I will never be disappointed.