Monday, February 9, 2009


Recent events have caused me to ponder my competitive spirit... and it puzzles me greatly. Because I can't figure out if I like winning or not.

Part of the problem is that I've never lost. Ever. I can't think of a time I've been devastated by loosing something. Especially in Speech and Debate, I've always done well. Always. When I was twelve, I went to nationals in HI, after qualifying at a PA tourney, I placed just after Nick Eledge, who went on to HI finals at nats that year. That same tournament, I received a ballot that complimented my "obviously well rehearsed voice" that I had decided to change entirely two minutes before the round. This sounds like bragging, but I want me to understand that I haven't lost. Ever. I don't know what it feels like to lose.

I think that's a problem. Because part of life is losing... so other people tell me anyway. I know that I'm going to lose eventually, and I don't want it to devastate me, I want to be able to shake it off and keep trying to win. But there's no motive to win if winning is easy. I hate, hate, winning without trying. Because I feel like I don't deserve it. Especially if I beat somebody who tried really hard... then I feel like I've denied them a well deserved victory. Every time I broke with my Chair Expos, it made me feel awful. Because I knew that because I broke, somebody else didn't, and that somebody probably worked a lot harder on their speech than I did. It's like survivors guilt, except without the life/death part.

I don't think I'm competitive. Last year, my goal for my expos was to make people think about why we use the props we do. I went to nationals. I never meant to break. Last year, my goal for my duo was to beat Andrew... a friendly competition, Tim and I won regionals. I never meant to qualify for nats. Last year, my goal for my OI was to do it, because I really liked the piece. I got 2nd at an Open. I never meant to break. Last year, my goal for Impromptu was to do it, because I was afraid to do it. I got to regionals. I never meant to break. Last year, my goal for my HI was to break at nationals. I won nationals. I never meant to get to finals.

This all sounds like bragging, but I want to understand how this stuff happens. Because I never meant to do as well as I did. I never tried to do as well as I did. And other people did, and didn't succede. I compete, but I'm not competative. I win, but I'm not a winner.

One of the most amazing things about the times I've won is that it shows me the power of prayer. Because three times my prayers have been answered with scary accuracy.
1. Texas Open, Thematic finals, I prayed that I'd do my best, and that Nathan Brown (who I really admired) would do well. I won, Nathan got second.
2. Regionals 2008, duo finals, I prayed that we'd do our best, and that Sarah, Hannah, and the Thortons would do well. We won. The Thortons placed second, Fiore/Weekly placed third.
3. Nationals 2008, HI finals, I prayed that I'd do well, and that Nick Acart (only other finalist whose name I knew) would do well. I won, he got second.

But I never prayed that I'd win. I just wanted to do my best. I never practiced to I'd win. I just practiced once in a while so I wouldn't forget the words. I never went into a room trying to crush. I just went into rooms hoping the judges would laugh. I've never tried to win. I've just won. And I don't like it.

I want to lose.

I remember at one tournament, somebody told me not to go into a room because somebody was in there crying.  I've never even remotely felt the desire to cry at a tournament.   I've been tired, emotionally exhausted, but I've never felt like crying over a loss... because I've never felt a loss.  The closest thing to a loss that I can think of is when my lego robotics team didn't win the directors award... which meant we didn't get to go to nationals.  I was really bummed, because I had poured my life into trying to get to nationals.  But it wasn't so bad, I told myself that I had done everything I could, no regret, others deserved it more.  We had won the table, and we got high marks on our presentation (my department) so it was okay. 

It seems like whenever I try to win, I lose, and whenever I don't care about the results, I win.  I've never won an outround in debate, because when I'm in outrounds, I care about winning.  In prelims, I don't care.  I went 6-0 at my first LD tournament, at a national open.  (this all sounds like bragging, but I'm trying to lay out the facts in one place)  I went against people like Andy Hudson and Alan Carillo... people who've been doing this for years, who are amazing speakers.  And I beat them, and I don't even know how, I was just chilling.  I remember that my round against Andy was one of the best I'd ever had, because it was pure clash and we were telling jokes and having fun (I was anyway.)  I don't even remember my round against Alan, because I was scared of being crushed the whole time... but I didn't care about the results, I just wanted the round to be over and me to be in one piece by the end.  And then I get to outrounds, and I make the stupidest arguments... even I know they're stupid, and five minutes after I say them I know what I should have said instead.  

But it's because I care about the results that I perform poorly.  The less I care, the better I seem to do.  The more fun I'm having, the more I win.  The harder I try, the worse I do.  The less fun I'm having, the less fun I'm going to have.

And part of me wonders if that's going to make a big difference in my life.  Looking ahead... what if I'm married and my marriage is breaking up... am I going to let it go because I just don't care.  Is all of this winning training me to not care?  Seriously, my mom asked me why I wasn't working harder on my duo... my answer, "I don't care about it... do I need to win duo three years in a row?"

That was big headed, but it was the truth.  I've won so much I don't care about winning, and I'm afraid that its effecting my whole life.  I need to lose. Badly.  But the problem is, whenever I try to lose, I win.  I can't make myself try to win when I want to lose... but when I try to lose, I win.  Something is wrong, and it's me, and I can't figure out how to fix it, and it's frightening. 


  1. That is frightening. But maybe it just shows that when you just have the right perspective, God rewards you.

    I know that you're amazingly gifted. I also know that "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required."
    What's the point of competition, except to train and cultivate skills? I say that you should take those skills into the community, country, world: somewhere big enough for you to care.

  2. Wow, that's interesting Micah. It does happen to a lot of people that when they get too nervous about winning then they crack, but when they're having fun the do well. I suppose it's something you're going to have to deal with. But I don't think you'll have trouble keeping a marriage together because you don't care, that's a bit extreme.

    I would say, don't worry. Don't worry about not losing, God will make you lose when it's your time ;) Failure is part of life, you will fail, and God will get you through it 'alright. (that's why I like the phrase "suck it up" so much.) Being able to fail and move on isn't always so easy, with stuff like speech and debate it is sometimes, with other things it isn't.

    I'm sorry about your team not go to nationals in robotics, that's too bad.