My earliest experience with competition occurred in school. In second grade, I remember all the kids racing to the farthest line of trees that surrounded the grounds of Sutton Elementary. I remember coming in fourth one day. I know that’s hard to believe… I thought that was pretty bad ass, but I felt like I could do better. I never did.
My parents always pushed me academically. Wait, let me correct that. My parents always threatened me to do well academically. I was always afraid something awful would happen if I didn’t get good grades. An ass-whoopin’ is a really great motivational tool. I’ll never be convinced otherwise.
The elementary school I first went to tried to force me into the bilingual class because I spoke Spanish at home. Little did they know, my English was just as good as my Spanish. Amazed by this English-speaking Mexican (I’m Salvadorian), they put me, the noble savage, in the Gifted and Talented class. My parents never let me forget this. They kind of felt insulted by the school’s stubborn attitude toward putting me in a G&T classroom. It took a lot of convincing. So, for years, my parents would always ask me two questions concerning school:
“How are you doing in school?” AND “How are you doing in school compared to the white kids?”
Funnily enough, they never bothered asking about the Asian kids because they recognized I had no chance. I always thought it was odd that my parents asked me how I did in school compared to white kids. My parents were well aware of my class’s demographic composition. From what I can remember, I was the only power-beaner in there, and there was only one black kid too. I guess they wanted to make sure I was alright with my situation. This being the case, my classes from Pre-K-12 were nearly entirely white. Anyone who went to school with me can attest to that.
I’ve never hated white people. I just needed to be better or just as good as them to appease my parents in a strange, confusing and roundabout way and therefore, make myself feel at ease.
I know to anyone who isn’t a minority, this sounds crazy, but it’s a problem most ethnic-minorities face, regardless of what society we’re talking about. When you’re the only one of your “kind” around, you feel like you’re under a microscope. Even if that isn’t always the case, you can’t help but feel marginalized. Some people can’t handle that sort of pressure, and it affects them adversely through life. I punch that sort of pressure in the fucking face.
My entire scholarly career was a competition against an invisible foe. There were no villains. There were no Shooter McGavins. There was only me, and this impossible obstacle I had to overcome, and that was my race.
In high school, it stopped being about race and my need to be the best just included everyone. I was the worst. I always tried to one-up and have the last word. It affected me socially because I couldn’t just shut the fuck up and listen to anyone.
In college, I quickly found out that no one cared. College is an exceptionally self-centered time. Except for a majority of prep school kids, nothing you did really mattered to people as long as you got your shit done and you weren’t a douche. That sort of freedom finally allowed me to relax, and take my identity into consideration more that I had ever done. And now, I don’t feel like there’s some force I’m fighting against anymore. I don’t feel like there’s an opposition, but merely circumstances and obstacles that we communally face. That’s pretty rad.
However, there is always something that brings back that interpersonal competitive fire. Someone says or does something that makes you say, “Alright, fuck face. If you want to make this happen, we can make this happen, but I can’t promise that your feelings won’t get hurt, and you ass won’t be sore.” Examples of competition-inducing actions are:
- Stepping on my sneakers
- Writing some shit about me in The Albany Register usually gets you jacked up
- Playing air-guitar like this… Damn I want those sweaters.
- Doing this to my team. I cringe every time I watch that. It’s painful.
- This effing song and movie
Competition is healthy. I’m still very competitive, but only with myself and the goals that I have set for my life. I feel that so many of us live in this world where everyone is trying to be the hippest, strongest, holiest or smartest for the wrong reasons. We’ll never be happy unless we understand that we shouldn’t do these things because of what people will think about us. We should do things because we care enough about ourselves to do meaningful shit with our lives.
South Austin seems to be crawling with these sort of people. It’s hard to not fall into a, and I quote, “dick-measuring contest” with people. I’m trying to be strong because I know, no matter who wins a little spat over who’s cooler, both parties are still assholes.
I’m just stating the obvious,
PS: Britt and I started a soccer blog. It’s about the EPL. So, all you guys who think that La Liga or heaven forbid, Serie A is better, just ignore the link below or in the Blog Roll. http://straightredtalk.wordpress.com/
Thanks for reading! I love you all.