When my daughter was in high school she was on the crew team. One happy day the four-person boat she led came in first, and she and the other girls won a medal.
Sam was very proud of herself. She had trained night and day, six days a week, to prepare for that race.
The next day she left the medal on her dresser and went to school. When she returned home that night she mentioned that a couple of the girls had worn their medals to school.
“Why didn’t you?” I asked.
“Because I didn’t want the girls on the team who didn’t win to feel bad,” Sam answered.
What a lucky girl, I thought, to not want to separate herself from others. She did not need to compete, compare or stand out.
There are tons of categories in life to compete in, if you’re so inclined. There’s prettiest, smartest, nicest, sassiest, best dressed, best cook, best athlete, happiest marriage, highest paid celebrity, etc. Let’s face it, you can’t win them all!
But we’re taught that if we have a passion for something, we need to be better at it than everyone else. Instead of connecting with (and supporting) those doing the same things we are, we compete with them. We alienate ourselves by comparing ourselves to each other.
By traditional standards, you cannot have a winner without a loser. But I don’t buy into that. Neither does my daughter. We know that winning is a personal thing. It’s the result of your efforts. Being a winner means you’re someone who works hard and jumps through all the hoops.
If you want to feel like a winner, you don’t have to beat everyone else – or anyone, for that matter. You simply need to set a realistic goal for yourself – then go out there and try to achieve it. In the end, you’ve won, whether or not you were given a title.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But this good news gets better.
Well, these feelings of being a winner have nothing to do with anyone else.
On our best day we can’t beg, buy, borrow or steal “Winner Feelings” from anyone. We can’t even earn them, because we already own them.
They come from within, and everyone has a set of “Winner Feelings.” Everyone, without exception.
I think it’s time we re-define what it means to be a “winner,” don’t you?
Of course, that would mean dropping the word “loser.” But hey, I’m willing to do that.
This essay is written by Denise Barry
Denise Barry is the award winning author of the childrens picture books, What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? and Soap On A Rope. Shes currently working on a middle grade book titled Sweeney Mack and the Slurp and Burp Competition, so watch for that! She also writes a blog on her website called Raisin' Kids, for parents who want to raise kids who become adults, not adult children. Denise lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband and two kids. To learn more about her visit her website at www.denisebarry.net