09 April 15

Competition

A couple of decades ago, a friend I no longer know told me I was very competitive.

My gut reaction was to say: “I’m not that competitive! You’re far more competitive than I am.”

But I thought better of saying it because I feared she would think I was being competitive.

So, instead I asked her: “Can you share an example? I’m not sure I know what you mean.” (I hadn’t even gone to therapy yet, so I’m still kinda proud of my response.)

She told me: You’re always comparing yourself to other people. You’re always looking at people and seeing all the things they do better than you. You’re always looking at your result and comparing it to the result of someone more experienced than you.

This conversation left me in a mental state of confusion and self-doubt, for a very long time. I found myself definitely comparing everything I did to everyone around me, and I always came up lacking. My effort needed more passion, my drive needed more focus, my skill was always amateurish.

I was probably 22 or 23, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that everything I did paled when compared to other people with more experience and resources than I had. At least now it makes sense. But at the time I kept thinking, “but I’m in college! I should be so much better now!”

My friend then suggested that I stop competing with other people, and instead compare current-me to previous-me and see how I was doing. And that helped, a lot. And despite the fact that our friendship ended many years ago because we were both hurt and stubborn, I still remember her saying this to me and I still try to force myself to stop comparing my effort to the effort of people around me.

So, it makes it hard to come here and have the desire to write, but have the words fizzle before they make their way to my fingertips on a keyboard. Why? Because there are so many people writing great things about feminism, writing great things about food, writing great things about craft, writing great things about every topic under the sun. And me? Well, I don’t even know as much about cast-iron as I once thought I did, because I found someone else who writes about it deeper and better than I do or could.

So, I think my reluctance to write something that is just okay is keeping me from writing. I used to not care what people thought about my writing. Because I wasn’t writing for them. I didn’t care what they thought. And now? Do I suddenly care what people think of my writing? I don’t think I do, but it has felt like I would be better served to read other people’s writing than I would be to write my own items. But that feels painfully one-sided now.

Comments

  1. I feel you. And hope you keep writing.

    — shokufeh on Apr 10, 01:31 pm

  2. I miss your writing voice.

    alison on Apr 13, 03:29 pm

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