For most of my life, I’ve been reminded that most things in life are a competition, even if we do not consciously think it is. We compete in obvious events like sports. We compete for top spots in class rankings. We compete for internships and jobs. Some may argue that even things as romantic as love are competitions; we compete with others for the attention of someone. There are things that don’t seem to be competitions, but we manage to turn them into who did the most and the best. We debate who had the hardest AP exam. We argue who has the busiest schedule. Some people, including myself, turn exercise classes into a competition. Why do we turn everything into a competition? Does everything have to be a competition?
I believe it is naïve to ignore the fact that many aspects in life are competitive. Knowing this can create stress. Instead of shutting down after feeling this stress, we should use that stress to motivate ourselves and accomplish something constructive. In each competition there are winners and losers. In recent years there’s the trend that everyone is a winner; at the end of every sports season, every child gets a trophy. What does this teach children and even adults? It teaches them that they will always be a winner. But when we get everything we want, what happens when we don’t get that one thing?
I was fortunate enough in high school to have a lot of things go my way. I got good grades, had wonderful friends, and most opportunities that fell into my lap worked out. I ran for various leadership board positions, and I did not receive a position on some of these boards. This came as somewhat of a shock to me at first. I worked so hard; how could I not have gotten a position? At first I struggled to accept that I did not get a position, but as time went on I realized this must have happened for a reason. Other people had wonderful speeches and were equally or more qualified. You cannot always be a winner. I experienced something in similar in college with regards to a job opportunity. Because I had already experienced working hard and not getting my desired outcome, I was able to come to terms with the decision much quicker.
Being a part of a sports team can really teach people how it feels to succeed and fail. I ran track in high school for all four years. I took it seriously, but I was not the best sprinter on the team. At first, this bothered me due to my competitive nature. Eventually I used that frustration to push myself to get better so that I can try and keep up with the faster girls. As the years went on, my times got better, and even though I was never the fastest person on the team, I was very proud of what I was able to accomplish when I put my mind to it. My team was there to push me to my limits, and they were there to celebrate with me whenever I got a new personal record.
In such a competitive world, we always want to come out on top. We all want to believe that hard work will always pay off. Of course, there are many instances when it does; there are plenty of times, however, when we fail even after we put our blood, sweat, and tears into something. Then, how can we be happy losers? To me, being a happy loser is being able to learn from the experience and maturing. If I can find a lesson in small or large failures, then I am happy regardless of the outcome. Learning from experiences is critical to the growth and development of people who wish to live happier lives.
“The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
What good comes from always getting what we want? We never learn how to cope with having a undesired outcome. I believe that is why so many people in my generation are ungrateful. I am not going to paint myself as a saint; I am guilty of exhibiting ungrateful behavior sometimes. I’ve been actively trying to be more aware of moments when I may sound unappreciative. We must be more cognizant of when we act in such a way. Acting ungrateful typically leads to a sense of entitlement, and then many people believe that the world owes them something and that everything should go their way. If you wish to win, you must put your mind to it and not be afraid of the chance of failing.
Some losses will be greater than others, but with each one comes a lesson so that you can be more successful when you try again. It takes a lot of courage to continue after failure, but you will feel a greater sense of fulfillment and success if you persevere. Personal success brings happiness to many, so why shy away from an opportunity to be happier even if there’s a chance of failing?
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
You are very lucky if everything in your life has always gone your way and you have not had to learn what it is like to lose something important to you. However, I feel that if everything has worked out for you thus far, you have been to afraid to be vulnerable and step out of your comfort zone. If this is you, I encourage you to try something that seems challenging to achieve and to not be afraid of failing. It may be difficult and nerve-racking, but I promise something great will come of it in the end.
Never settle for just enough. Reach out for something and even if you miss, you can always try again. Success does not come easy, but in order to truly be a winner, we must learn how to lose.