A Dream About Competition

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

I woke from a crazy dream a few mornings ago to discover my muse was whispering in my ear.  She was sharing the opening paragraph of a blog I could write. The words were crystal clear. By the time I was fully awake, I had the first three lines already to go.  However, when I finally made it downstairs to my computer, the idea had become misty and was fading fast. This is not the first time. Keeping a journal beside my bed won't work as it would wake my husband. Neither is leaping out of bed as I won't get back to sleep. I am still searching for a way to capture those just waking up thoughts.

What do I remember? 
There was some sort of creative competition going on.  Most participants had all the supplies they needed. For some reason one artist was lacking something - or somethings - crucial to her endeavor.  There was a controversy among the other contestants as to whether to allow anything to be supplied. The most competitive person said absolutely not. Others were in conflict. Strange dream - right? The dream closed with me whispering in one contestant's ear a few wise words about competition. HMMM.

My family didn't embrace competition.  My dad was a minister. Life was about service to mankind, not placing yourself ahead of another. Watching Sunday football after church was the exception.  It was a stress reliever for my dad. But for us kids the focus was clear - we helped, not competed.  I went on to avoid competition through most of my life. For many years I thought I wasn't competitive. Not true. I was shocked to one day discover while playing cards to realize I actually did have a competitive side. It was just hiding in the background.  However, most of the time I ignored anything that was competitive as much as possible.

Photo by Yasin Yusuf on Unsplash

To this day I still dislike a lot about the "me versus them" mentality that seems to drive our society.  Who has the best grades in school?  Who is the best at this sport? Who took gold? Femember the travesty of an old ad by a sports company that said, "Second place is just the first loser!"  The idea that only the top person has succeeded and everyone else has failed is destructive. Want proof - take a little time to read the book Big Potential by Shawn Achor. He shares the research.

Back to my dream. What was it I found myself whispering in that competitor's ear?  Again, it's misty and faded, but to the best of my knowledge it was about a way to look at competition differently. The idea swirled around personal goals.  You come to a competition to test yourself - your ideas, your skills,  your training, your growth. Whether you take first place or last, there is a take away that will move you forward. In fact, there are far more rewards available than society lets on.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

At some point in the future, I have set the goal of either submitting a poem for publication OR to a poetry competition. I only recently discovered my love of writing poetry after working my way through the book Every Day is a Poem by Jacqueline Suskin.  I found myself deeply drawn to this beautiful way of expressing everything from emotions to the world around me, and the process of creating poetry exciting. I am still a total newbie. To date I have only written 18 poems. 

Let's face it, with so little experience I have only a slim chance of publication and probably zero chance of winning any competition. So why would I even consider this direction?  To challenge myself. To push myself forward and upward as a writer - to improve and grow. I believe putting myself out there in a public competition could be a driving force to my becoming ever better. Participating does open me to public criticism but I am willing to take that risk.  I want to grow. Sometimes passion can be an incredible driving force as well as a substitute for courage and confidence. 

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Just for today let go of society's rules for competition.  Let go of the idea of winning and losing, that you have to be receiving top awards to consider yourself successful.  Try to instead look at competition as personal.  Set goals to achieve that are yours alone and single-mindedly pursue them.  Put yourself out there in ways that scare you. Reach beyond where you are comfortably secure, in directions that might frighten you, but where you can learn.  Want to become all you can be so much that you are willing to face your fears. 

And more than anything, shut out the negative voices that only offer judgement.