Because I trust you, I have decided to disclose a painful confession. Not only have I never told this to anyone before, I’ve never even admitted it to myself.
I am secretly very competitive, and I hate it.
Being a former hippie (well, an 80s wannabe hippie…I’m not old enough to have been an actual hippie), competitiveness conflicts with my value system. I want to be someone who wants everyone to win.
In fact, if you ask me, I’ll say that I do want everyone to win. And I kinda do. But I really only want everyone to win if I can win most. And if I like you. Otherwise, I might secretly want you to lose. Ack, I’m such a bad person.
Or am I? Maybe I’m just a human person.
H.L. Mencken defined wealth as “any income that is at least $100 more a year than the income of one’s wife’s sister’s husband” Hm. So, maybe it’s not just me.
In the 1970s, an economist named Richard Easterlin found that while people who have more money are happier than those who are poor, as countries grow richer, their citizens do not naturally grow happier. He postulated that happiness is related to wealth only when people are richer than those around them. How messed up is that?
So maybe, then, competitiveness is just human nature.
Except…I have two little dogs, both with their own distinct little personalities. Separately, they’re alternately affectionate and aloof. Moody. Like humans. But when one of them decides to sit on my lap, suddenly the other one wants to sit on my lap, too. If I pet one of these capricious little beasts, the other one sprints up and tries to force its way in between the first one’s head and my hand.
Hm…so maybe competitiveness isn’t just human nature, but rather nature itself.
It’s well known that humans and many other species display “inequity aversion,” meaning that we have a built-in resistance to getting less than the guy next to us. I guess it makes sense. If we don’t have the instinct to fight to make sure we get enough, we might just starve to death. Gives new meaning to the term “healthy competition.”
So given all this information, do I feel better about my need to know more, be a better writer, or make more money than you? Not really, because I also want to be a better person than you, too.
My only solace is that you probably feel the same way. But not as much as me.