Tuesday, October 8, 2013

About My Competitive Streak...

Since I admitted to being competitive, I've had my eye on that little up-start part of me. Do you know when I'm most aware of it? In yoga. Maybe because that's when it seems most out of place. We're trying to create a supportive environment - where people are free to grow and stretch without fear. 

The fear of being judged. That's what's supposed to be absent from a yoga classroom. But there's a stubborn little judge that creeps in, often on my own shoulder and what I wouldn't give to flick him right off! It begins with me feeling inadequate; worrying that I don't really belong and I'm a wanna be. Then I get into a balance and happen to stay there. Then I start to notice how some of my fellow yogis are wobbling. Other times a guy will come to the class and lay his mat next to mine. Pretty soon we're doing upper body work and I want to show him I can do anything he can, assuming he expects me to poop out cuz I'm a girl. 

My peripheral vision is keen. The room may be dark, but I can very quickly glance around to see how my "competition" is doing. If I happen to be doing better, I start to feel pretty impressed with myself. I start out with positive self-talk like, "I am strong," but quickly find myself miming what the little judge has to say. "If I keep working, I could be the star of the class."  

I know. I'm so embarrassed, but I've actually said that word in my head. Star. That's usually my wake-up call to stop daydreaming and shut my inner self up. But I've found, my inner self rarely shuts up, so I need to replace my competitive thoughts with something new and wonderful. I just didn't know what that was. How was I supposed to see my classmates? Competition is a habitual, often unquestioned outlook.

But it's not a valid one. People who aren't the best are not expendable, therefore I don't have to defend my spot in an over-crowded lifeboat. Donald Miller explores this whole idea in his book, Searching for God Knows What and he says that Jesus looks into our fear-filled eyes and says, "I've saved you from the lifeboat." So how do I see my fellow riders if they don't threaten me? 

My teacher suggested, "Don't compare yourself with your neighbor. Instead, appreciate them." Okay, so when I'm getting starstruck by myself, I just need to feel grateful that these other people got out of bed and came here to practice because otherwise, I'd be doing a yoga video at home. (Which may sound fine to you, but it would be blea-eak compared to the classes I enjoy.) They make this place wonderful, just by being here and offering the occasional smile. A few of us chit-chat after and the funny thing is, once I know them, I don't feel like competing with them. Suddenly they're three-dimensional. I realize they are people. Not just faces and their set of yoga skills that I judge to be good or bad. 

Which you'd think I'd know by now, I'm not any good at. Things I think are terrible turn out to be good and vice versa. Why do I have this need to label and categorize and pecking-order-ize everything? I feel desperate sometimes, to know my place - my rank and imagine this will give me some sense of security. But it doesn't. According to Glennon Melton of Momastery, "Striving for good and resisting bad is the source of all of our worry, all of our stress." I know this to be true. So I'm going to try to let go of my judgments and rankings. I'm going to start acting like we belong to each other and everyone in my life is a gift. This comforts and terrifies me. 

It comforts me because the risk of being pitched when I don't measure up is gone. It terrifies me because this has been the math of my life! How do I step outside this thing that feels as sure as 1 + 1 = 2?  I don't know, but I can't breathe in here, with the puffed-up, star-struck me or wallowing, insecure me. It has to be better than this. I want to find out.


  1. Kendra we must be kindred spirits- I so identify with everything you are saying here. I have found it so hard not to compare myself to others. I thought I was doing quite well in this regard when it all reared it's ugly head this week. For a few days I became temporarily obsessed with the number of likes on my Facebook page (so hard to even admit this silliness). There is another blogger who started at the same time as I did, but her FB likes have rocketed up- and yet I think I'm a better writer....*sigh* Why do I even have to compare in that way? After a few days of feeling miserable I realized that numbers do not define the worth of what I am doing. I found Matthew 20:25-28 gave me some much needed perspective. Also Brene Brown's books were really, really, helpful.

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one willing to admit this. I IS embarrassing when you spell it out. It seems so ridiculous. I've GOT to read Brene's books since being content with who I am is one path to not comparing.