It requires an investment of 8 minutes to watch the video below, and a willingness to look at yourself in an honest, unforgiving light at the end of the post, and ask the question: what do you really want from life?
For a long time I’ve considered myself an ultra-competitive person — whether it was a ‘casual’ game of tennis (who the hell plays anything CASUALLY?), going for a run with friends (I’d slowly speed up the last few miles, then sprint to the finish, even on ‘easy’ days), or a ‘fun’ game of monopoly (you traded Illinois for Baltic and $150? Are you SHITTING ME?).
I didn’t want to win, I needed to win.
People didn’t like this, but I didn’t mind. Not to say I was an asshole, I wouldn’t rub it in (unless that friend was competitive too, in which case victory was delicious) — I just had a drive that wouldn’t turn off, and I liked it that way. My friends understood and appreciated that part of me, and life was good.
A few years later I moved to a new city to start a new career and new business. I started worrying about being liked, gaining friends, and ‘building a new network’, so I toned down my competitiveness. It was there, just…a little more muted than usual.
A few years went by, and more people ‘liked’ me. I started ‘fitting in’. But there was a problem:
I started losing the edge that I defined myself by.
I used to be the guy who everyone thought was crazy for going for a run at 1AM while it was 20 degrees and snowing because I couldn’t fit it in earlier in the day. The guy who dated someone long distance for 1 year and then proposed to her without ever being in the same city (happily married thank you very much!). The guy who left a guaranteed career with lots of room for growth for a dream job in an entirely different field.
That guy eroded over time.
The gravitational pull of social norms slowly reeled me in, slowly crushed what made me great.
Because greatness is not what other people want for you.
They want you to be normal.
Now I’m not saying everyone needs to have the same intense desire to win at everything. I’m sharing a story of how I let myself be pushed into a box I wasn’t meant to be in, in hopes that you can avoid the same fate.
Because being normal is…normal. But is that what you want?