Competition is relative. No, I don't mean competition with your relatives (although if you are like me, you know that sibling rivalry is *lovingly* brutal), but relative depending on who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why you are competing.
Did you watch the Olympics this summer? I always love watching those athletes do their thing. Not only are their performances inspiring, but knowing the YEARS of hard work and dedication they put into their sport, just for the opportunity to compete on the world stage with the best of the best… just thinking about it gives me chills! But I saw a meme that read, "Every Olympics should include one regular person for reference." Well, we don't all have to be Olympic or elite athletes to enjoy competing. Despite what we have been taught, competitions are not alllll about winning. Sure it's nice and having that tiger mindset, but what you get out of the process of competing is worth more than gold.
Nowadays, you can sign up for online challenges, 5k Turkey Trots, Triathlons, CrossFit competitions, pie-eating contests… you name it. While it might seem intimidating at first, it's important to remember that we sign up for competitions in the hopes of getting something good at it. No one signs up for a competition with the intention of having a horrible time. Sure, it's not always a smooth ride, and that's expected, but we go into it ready to do the best we can.
So what are other reasons to compete that aren't just about winning?
1. You learn something new about yourself.
When you are pushed out of your comfort zone, you have to adapt to your growth. When you adapt to your growth, you are learning. Maybe you'll find out that you have a lot of grit. Or maybe you will find out that an area of opportunity for you to get better is in your mental toughness. Whatever the case is, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will make you even just 1% better.
2. It gives you motivation to "work towards something."
When we have a fixed date or a time frame, it can help us focus. Do you ever do that when you are working? You write down your meetings or tasks that have to get done within a certain time or date. Having that target helps to keep you on track. It's the same thing with competitions. Having a date set on the calendar can help you stay motivated in your training. *Pro-tip: Even if you have a date set for a competition, remember to take it one day at a time. It can get overwhelming if we think too far in advance. I always love the quote, "head down, eyes forward." It is a reminder to always have the goal in sight and just put in the work every day until you get there.
3. Comradeship in Competition
There is something about suffering or pushing yourself when you are side by side with someone. Being in a group environment just hits different. Sure, you can push yourself on your own, but having someone train or compete with you pushes you in ways that we can't always do on our own. It is even better if you are competing with someone who is better than you. Instead of viewing people who are "better" than us in a defeating way, we can view it as a great opportunity. This means that YOU are getting better every day. Because you are trying to keep up with them, you will be pushed to be your best self.
4. Strengthen your mental game
If you think about it, competitions are "training" for real life. Having a controlled environment where you can push yourself physically and mentally can help train you for life events. Learning how to keep your cool in stressful situations, problem-solving under pressure, and not to mention the dedication and work it takes to prepare for a competition. I'm not saying you have to go full Olympic athlete dedication mode and sleep in a chamber like Michael Phelps did, but you do have to put in intentional effort. Making sure you are taking care of yourself, sleeping more, eating healthy, prioritizing your mobilization. All of these things will not only help you in competition, but they will translate into your everyday life as well.
5. To have fun!
And finally, if you think about it, competitions are for fun! (Most) Competitions are supposed to be fun! They add some spice to your life, and who doesn't enjoy a good post-competition burger and/ or pizza? We put so much pressure on ourselves when we think about competing, and while yes, it can be intense, it doesn't have to be. It really is one giant game and shouldn't be anything we lose sleep over (although those pre-comp jitters of excitement do make it hard to sleep, I will admit to that!).