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It's not whether you win or lose... or is it?

By Elizabeth Saulsbury
On April 6, 2014

Ricky Bobby, the central character in the 2006 Will Ferrell comedy Talladega Nights, has this joshing tagline: "If you ain't first, you're last."
This phrase has become something of a mantra in my family, and we're only half kidding.
The fact of the matter is that in a large family full of fiercely competitive type-A's, winning is pretty darn important.
How important, you ask? Important enough to make our Christmas Monopoly game nicknamed "The Hunger Games."
The holidays just wouldn't be the same without shouting, crying, screaming, weeping, yelling and sobbing around the game board every year.
"Healthy competition?" Please. That phrase is an absurdity in this family.
It wouldn't be a competition without some threat of bodily harm.
In all seriousness, my OCD (Obsessively Competitive Disorder) can be either my greatest strength or my worst weakness.
It's my motivation, but it's also been my downfall.
Take that capture-the-flag game last summer, for instance.
I was at a student conference that my church holds every year, and one evening, someone suggested a big game of capture the flag.
Maybe I took the game too seriously, or maybe I took myself too seriously. Either way, there were a few hurt feelings at the end of the game.
I had inadvertently become a screeching dictator to my teammates, and I was not the most popular person by the time it was over.
It's a good thing I have patient friends, or I would have lost more than just the game.
There hadn't been a bet on the competition. There wasn't even a prize for the winner. But the thought of losing was insufferable.
Forgive my ranting, but I also tend to get a little frustrated with people who don't seem to care enough about winning to give the game their best shot.
I mean, how hard is it to stand guard over one prisoner?
It's a bit embarrassing in retrospect, but I try to recall the capture-the-flag incident when I feel my uber-competitive state coming on.
It still tends to rear its head on occasion (especially in group projects ... that's a whole other story.)
However, I am doing my best to curb my overly aggressive approach to any competition.
Don't get me wrong; I still agree with Ricky Bobby.
But maybe I'm starting to understand that not winning might be OK once in a while.


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