I like to win. I like to be the best at whatever I’m doing. So when I see the amazingly creative, crafty, handmade, thoughtful things you do with your family and share in pictures on Facebook, I feel…well…violent.
Nothing else motivates me like competition. It’s how I’m wired. My husband is even more competitive than I am, followed closely by our kids. Family game night at our house commonly ends with someone either in tears or stomping away since none of us are OK with losing. (You don’t even want to know what happens during a rowdy round of Bible Trivia!)
My competitive strengths have served me well in school and in the workplace. I can hit a deadline, reach a goal, and knock out the competition. However, there are times when my competitive spirit needs to be tamed. Like the holidays, for instance.
I simply should not compete in:
- Home decorating
- Cookie baking
- Room mom
This time of year can really drain a competitor like me. I am constantly comparing myself to all the “Pinterest people” and falling flatly on the side of failure. It’s no wonder there is so much depression during the holiday season. If we’re not lonely, financially strapped, or battling crazy family members, there’s always the pit of comparison despair to bring down our moods.
There are two ways high-achieving women tend to respond to a challenge we can’t win: outdo or opt out.
To compensate for our weaknesses, sometimes we try to out-do our capacity. Overestimating ourselves leads to exhaustion. My mother decorates no less than fifteen Christmas trees every year. She has a climate-controlled “shed” in the backyard to hold all her decorations. Her shed even has window treatments and landscaping! With the bar set that high, the four trees I put up seem just plain lazy. The difference is, though, decorating for Christmas actually brings my mom JOY. It is not usually that joyful to me. I yell at my kids because they won’t help, but who WOULD want to help a stressed-out competitor trying to out-do what she did last year?
The second response to an unwinnable challenge is to simply choose not to try. If I can’t win, I won’t play. I have never attempted to make cut-out cookies. I am 100% sure on this one. It’s not something I aspire to do well. The problem with this response is what I’m missing in the process.
How should we use our competitive strengths this season?
This December, I’ve decided on a new competition for myself. I’m going to do the best I can do at:
- Serving silently
- Encouraging others
- Giving generously
- Practicing humility
- Praying without ceasing
- Giving and receiving grace
I promise I won’t compete with you this season. I will encourage you and love you for YOUR strengths and ask that you love me for mine. Will you join me in quitting the comparison trap and committing to support each other for our distinctive, original, unique selves?