I never thought of myself as a competitive person because I saw how much more competitive many others were than me. I never cared to win much at sports or other “see who is best” events. Maybe it was because the effects of losing didn’t last long or I’d just rather not dive to the ground just to keep a ball in the air. Regardless, I did engaged in my own competitions from time to time, but they weren’t always so sportly structured.
Often my rivals were simply my friends in school. We were all trying our best to get good grades and we were all in the same boat when it came to intelligence, so it was often a close call. I only had to win by a few inches, not cram for a whole mile.
Other rivals were family members of a similar age vying for attention or adoration from the adults, which we were never actually starved for.
These competitions were constant throughout childhood. As I got older and became aware of these behaviors, I realized that the scars I was accumulating and causing were not longer a result of healthy competition. It was down right mean.
Though all of this I always thought of myself as a nice person. I was at heart a people pleaser to the point where I put other people’s wants above my own. But I wasn’t fully a nice person. I inflicted social pain on others when they didn’t even know there was a competition. I felt triumphant when I finally felt better than a specific person.
Then I looked back and realized that they were just being themselves, reacting to the world, looking for a friend. Here I was jealous of their natural advantages, needing to prove myself when my friend just stood there defeated by my behavior.
Its been over 10 years since I had this realization. I’ve since made new friends who were so beyond my own situation in life that I felt no need to compete. We are simply not comparable because we play life in completely different arenas with completely different rules. We can simply talk about life and try to understand each other without one-upping.
I still encounter my old rivals, often with compassion and guilt over having “beat” them when they were already too far down to fight. Others, I just avoid, having never settled the score.
I am a bad friend.
All her friends have always said so.
When she was nine, her best friend told her she was a bad friend because she wore glasses.
When she was 12, a friend told her she was bad because her braces and mouth retainer made her breath smell.
When she was 15, she was a bad friend for standing up for her boyfriend.
When she was 18, she was a bad friend for not being friends with a girl she hadn’t spoken to in two years.
When she was 21, she was a bad friend for not saying hello to a friend of a friend who really needed people to be nice to her.
When she was 24, she was a bad friend for not keeping in contact for the few weeks she went home to help her dad recover from heart surgery.
When she was 27, she wasn’t a bad friend because she had given up on having friends.
When she was 30 she was a bad friend for always calling another friend in the evening after a few drinks.
At least she’s got a few years before someone blames her for trying to be friends with them.
She sat cross legged at the edge of a pond starring into her wavering reflection. Whenever she felt she could see herself too clear, she gently pushed a floating leaf across the image of her face. After years of meddling in other people’s lives, she finally saw herself for what she was, a bitch.
She always let them come to her, to seek shelter from an undefined social affliction. She was good at leading them to the end that they, in themselves, were too timid to lead themselves to. It gave her power. Power in that she only had to be herself and listen to their gibberish. It was an unspoken skill.
Other women knew what she was doing, but it was too on the edge of language for them to explain clearly, especially to men, these types of men at least. “I did their women a favor,” she wanted to believe.
In reality, they knew more of what she was doing than she ever did. All she knew is that the men, easily swayed, would eventually latch to her side. This effortless power over them fueled her existence. Once she had them in her grasp, completely free of their prior fears and with God by her side, she welcomed in her next target. Each next-solider-in-need stood as guard against the last.
On this day she became aware of the pattern. Suddenly, she recalled with clarity all the words of warning from her mother and sisters. Suddenly it all made sense.
Suddenly, the clouds parted above her reflection just as she realized exactly how many, many people would always know that deep down, at the depth of her soul, she was nothing more than a bitch.
I have a never ending fondness for learning new and better ways of doing things. It makes life continually fascinating to look back at what once made sense and think, “what was I thinking?” I find it hilarious and entertaining. Generally I accept advice for my problems positively if the advice really does solve a problem better. Not everyone does.
I remember old friends pointing out, in a moment of complete frustration, that I am always telling them what to do. I think there was a disconnect. Obviously I didn’t always tell them what to do, but if I did it is because I notice that they are struggling with the output of some sort of task and they were constantly complaining that something wasn’t working right. As a friend, I thought it natural to share a method that worked for me.
These individuals don’t see it that way. They don’t see advice or opinion as friendly unless they directly asked for it. Some have inferiority complexes where in they interpret the words “I know a better way” as “you are always doing everything wrong”. This causes them to get defensive towards the good intention tossed their way.
Some, not all, dislike being “told what to do” so much that they will purposely not follow advice to their own detriment. They value the liberty in their decision making above seeking the best methods of taking care of oneself. It is a social disorder in the sense that they will eat unhealthy food because of who told them to eat healthy food instead. There is no recourse to why they should eat healthy food in their brains. Until they personally decide to make an effort to keep themselves healthy, they will not take any advice on the subject. But once the decision is made, suddenly my advice is soaked up like a sponge.
Because of this strange internal switch, I find these people very difficult to be friends with, therefore I avoid them like the plague. This saves me the lecture because when I hear the words: “stop telling me what to do”, I really hear, “you’re a horrible friend.”
One day I fell. Hard. I couldn’t get back up because as I laid there in complete and total confusion and despair, I had no way of knowing which way was up. The world hadn’t spun, it simply twisted behind its facade. On the surface all was as it always had been: people went to work and the store, they played outside with their pets and children, they ate laughed, drank, cried, and loved. But as I finally stood, slowly so as to hide my wobbling knees, looking around attenuating myself to this new existence, it became clear that the shock waves had damaged the foundation of things. All around was the sound of familiar voices hitting notes I had never heard before, people moving in much more ways to ponder, and most of all eyes lingering on me more puzzled than ever.
In a brief moment of despair at not being in love for far too long, I summoned up my favorite lover from my memory. After dancing the softness of his skin and reliving the sparkling spot in my soul where his memorizing eyes met mine, I finally remembered what it felt like to be in love again. For a brief second the portal between us opened again, long enough for me to whisper “but i love you…” Swooning once again in a state of ecstasy, he awoke from my spell, “Mareks…Mareks, darling are you still there?” said a sweet voice over the phone. “Hm, hmm, yes yes, uh blue, blue is a great color for the guest bedroom, look I’ve got to go, I’ll call you back when I’m on my way home” he replied….”Love you too….cheers….bye”. He nervously stood up and looked out the window over Sydney Harbour. He remembered too.
As social beings, we are naturally inclined to react to other people. Growing up, we are conditioned on how to behave towards people as well as how to read the basics of communication, yet there is still so much for which our vocabulary is heavily insufficient to explain. Often people apply all the right rules and following all the social back and forths only to be further away from others than they were when they were strangers. In all manner of capacity, the cultural social cues should have been enough, but more often than not, they fail us. In all honesty, human connection is one of the least understood aspects of life, cognitively speaking. There is no explanation for subtleties affecting why certain people are great friends yet others can’t stand the mere mention of one anothers’ names. In reality it isn’t the social banter that it important, it is how others make you feel. There are some of us who are quite sensitive to how other people affect us, meaning our internal reaction to someone’s presence drives whether or not we bother to make contact or continue on with mindless social exercises. There are many different ways that people make me feel. Some more pleasant than others. One feeling in particular is horribly annoying: the allergic reaction.
Like any allergy, it take a few interactions with a person to realize that I am allergic to them. Once the allergy is full blown, my immune system switches my brain into self preservation mode. All energy goes into getting as far away from the person as possible. My vision narrows so that my brain can focus solely on escape routes as well as be unable to make clear eye contact. My vocal cords tighten to only allow out desperate cries for freedom. My sinuses tighten so my nervous system can be ready to produce tears in case I really need to show someone how serious I am. I instinctively want to curl up into a ball by hugging my knees to keep the individual from thinking that I am open to their presence.
I know this is an allergic reaction because once the allergen is gone, I feel relieved that I am able to act normal again. Like any in any other allergy situation, the best thing for my health is to avoid the allergens, so I do…and guess what?!?!? I’ve been allergy symptom free! 🙂
You feel confident when in certain situations, but when specific people are around you feel the need to compete for the friendship. Your “friend” encourages this by naturally not making social concessions/offering agreed upon reassurance towards you. When confronted your friend acts like they didn’t notice because they do it on purpose as their way of controlling you. Confused you assume it is just in your mind, so you try to ignore it. It happens again when the “better” friend is around.
Suddenly you realize that there is a hierarchy and the needs of the friends higher on the list are met before yours. Often the needs of higher friends is that your “friend” be cold to their lower friends. This modern day Machiavellianism is how friends exert dominance other each other for their own negative, controlling self indulgence.
I had a boyfriend for a long, long time who ended up dumping me for another girl. I was heartbroken and spent years picking up the pieces and rebuilding my life with the friends who stood by my side. After a while I realized that his departure was in fact one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’m happy, more carefree, have good friends, and have accomplished a lot. I thought I couldn’t be happier, until I found out that the girl he left me for dumped his ass. Booya!
Some people are so absorbed in their culture that they have very rigid beliefs about the way society functions, or should function, that it is almost pointless to tell them any of your rather humorous fuax pas because, instead of laughing, they will start to pity you.
The moment you realize you are being pitied, is a moment of truth. The sun shines brighter, a breeze whirls around you, an intensely fresh scent intoxicates you, and it suddenly it hits you that you don’t actually give a damn. You find yourself yelling, “Finally!! I am free of this shit!” with you arms up to the sun in a victory V and your head tilted back. Your mind starts to reconnect the past in ways that make you realize why you’ve been feeling so disconnected with this person for so long but didn’t have words or reason to describe it.
Gingerly, you wait as time passes…”maybe it was just a fleeting moment and I will change my mind,” you think to yourself. But no, as time goes on, life gets better. There is no aching hole to fill, instead you actually enjoy using it for target practice and admire it like a trophy by hanging it on your wall…”See this here,” you imagine telling some future person, “this is all that’s left of that friendship, beat it to the ground didn’t we eh? nothing left to salvage [insert Santa Claus laugh here].” You realize that you didn’t actually need the person at all because you haven’t hardly even had an inkling of a reason to pretend like you are friends with them again. Now there is a whole open space, void of bitching and agreeing-just-to-avoid-negative-situations, that can be filled with new people and ideas and happy thoughts…..