I was never really an athlete growing up. I did Taekwondo as a kid and I was good at it – even won two events in the one (and only) competition I attended but I was like 11 years old so it wasn’t as much a competition as it was having fun.
When I was older though I became involved in choir/band and when All Region/All State came around – that’s when my competitive side came roaring out. I was good, not in the way that a lot of people were good, I mean, I was really good. And, I usually always placed 1st or 2nd chair (ugh!) when I wasn’t sitting 1st.
Then came college where everyone was REALLY good. I remember being told on the first day of choir that everyone in there had sat in the top ten chairs at Region/State and that it didn’t mean sh*t – not in there – not anymore. And you know what, it didn’t. We were all really good and together, we were incredible because we were a team.
What’s sad is that, at some point, I became disengaged, and lost confidence in my voice because however good I was, I didn’t believe I could be the best. I lost confidence in a lot of things actually and got mired down in things I shouldn’t have gotten mired down with and, as a result, I stopped competing. This, despite having numerous competitive opportunities.
Sure, I could stand on stage and sing with 30 other people but when the spotlight was on me alone… I just couldn’t. So, the competitive thrill that I had once thoroughly enjoyed was long gone.
And it stayed gone until I walked into a gym many years later.
When I started Weight Training, I was in a class of beginners. The only other guy besides me was 10 years younger than me but we were built similarly, had similar strength and so we partnered up. Having him there was such a blessing because he pushed me and because he pushed me, he was competition.
And because he was there I remembered what competition felt like and I started loving it again…but then he stopped coming. So there I was with no one to compete with except two guys who were MILES ahead of me in terms of strength, endurance, build and a close friend who also worked out but at a different time than I did. He’d had been in the gym far longer than me but I figured I could take him, at least in the strength game.
So, I kept track of his numbers and after a while I caught up with him too in short order.
Now what? I can’t compete with Paul, who’s built like a brick sh*t house…a guy who regularly bench presses my body weight +
So, I started competing with the only person I had left to compete with…myself. And that’s when things really started changing. I realized that I’d been wasting hours each week competing with other people when my best competition had been myself the whole time.
I had forced myself into ridiculous emotions, like shame or unworthiness, and I had no business feeling them because I had lost sight of this:
It’s not about what other people can do. It’s about what YOU can do.
Their gains aren’t your gains and they never will be.
Competing against yourself will also show you what you’re really made of too because it’s the easiest thing in the world to cheat your sets when there isn’t someone there chasing your numbers, nipping at your heels.
Goals are good. Set them and set them often! But if you’re working towards other people’s goals, any achievement you make will always be tainted because it will be their best you achieved and not your own.
Competition can be good and healthy. And it can be a mindkiller. If you’re not competing with yourself first and foremost you’re in it for the wrong reasons.
Gym isn’t a team sport. It’s you against you.
Om, Baby. Om,