I'm competitive

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:58 PM

I feel like I should stand in front of a group of fellow competitives and announce, solemnly, “Hi, I’m Lorin and I’m competitive.” 

All together now: Hiiiii, Looooorrrriiiiin.

Let me tell you my story. For some time now, I have needed to be the one who won, anything. When I was little, I was a terrible sore loser at board games like Candyland. I loved Candyland, but got angry and surly when I lost. I stopped playing board games shortly thereafter. 

As I grew a bit older, I used to compete with my dad. I don’t know when it started; I’m not even sure why it started. Perhaps because my dad used to engage in certain sporting activities that I also enjoyed. He was pretty good on ice skates. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I took ice skating lessons. I was decent; not great. But I enjoyed it, and I could skate a mean backwards 8. Behind our house in New York was a sort of swamp-pond that would freeze solid in the cold winter. The family would often go skating on the weekend. My dad would lace up his black figure skates and I would lace up mine. One day we decided to race and I was determined to beat him. For some ridiculous, youthful reason I needed to beat him. We raced. He caught a toe-pick on a small protruding branch or stick and went sprawling. I remember being elated because I’d won. I don’t remember being too worried as to whether or not he was OK (he was). 

Another time, we were playing tennis. I had taken an interest in the sport when I started watching Chris Evert. My first racket was a wooden Wilson racket that sported her signature. My dad had played tennis in his youth and again, for unknown reasons, it became very important that I beat him. We would bat the ball back and forth. Whenever I managed to put some spin on a ball that got past him, I would shriek with delight. At one point, on a particular Sunday, I went up to hit an overhead, determined to smash it past him. I came down, lost my footing, fell to the court and broke my wrist. I was so competitive though that I didn’t stop playing until I could no longer hold the tennis balls. 

I never liked to admit defeat, I didn’t like to be beat. I still don’t. But I’ve become a slightly better loser. Slightly. It’s something I recognize and work on, or at least try to. Except lately. Lately I am very competitive with my husband. In fairness, he is also competitive with me. 

When Justin was home, he was finally able to get us the fitness trackers he had “given” us for Christmas. Both Kevin and I chose Garmin Vivosmart HR trackers. They have a swipe face, with large letters and numbers making it easy to use and easy to see. We wear them every day. And every day, throughout the day, our conversations go something like this: 

“How many steps do you have?” 

“Did you reach goal yet?” 

“Not yet – wait. Goal!”

We have become obsessed with our step count. Each morning begins with a question: How many steps are you supposed to do today? The steps are automatically increased by a certain percentage based on whether or not we met the previous day’s steps. When Kevin gets to his goal before me, I feel dejected. Beaten. When we’re walking up the hill in the morning and he announces “goal!” because he’s met his stair-climbing goal and his wrist buzzes, I feel wronged. The Garmin’s screen shows fireworks and flashes the word GOAL! in celebration. My first instinct isn’t “great!” or “congrats!” Nope. It’s “why haven’t I met goal? We walked the same distance, we climbed the same hills.” Usually before I’m finished whining, my wrist too begins to buzz.

I don’t play board games anymore. I haven’t played tennis in ages. I can’t remember the last time I laced up skates. But none of that matters. I now have a fitness tracker, and it has reinvigorated my competitive streak. 

Say it with me: Hiiiii, Looooorrrriiiiin.

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