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Thursday, January 20, 2005


I don't know if Tim's and my competitive natures are a particularly toxic combination, or if I just have a serious character flaw. I cannot play games with him. Specifically, I cannot play games with him if he's teaching me how to play them. His mom and sis got him a Mah Jongg set for his birthday. I have always wanted to learn how to play (if for no other reason than I like the Asian characters and designs on the tiles. I didn't actually know that it was like gin rummy. I thought it was played like dominos.).

So we made chili, invited two of his classmates over, and had a nice evening planned. And everything was lovely until we got out the tiles and Tim started explaining how the game works. Instantly, I started being a bitch. I was embarrassed, because I don't like to do that around guests, at the risk of making them feel uncomfortable. But I just couldn't help it. I hated the game! I hated not knowing how to play it. And I particularly hated that Tim ended up with 1,000-plus points, while I had 26. (That the other two beginners had less than 20 didn't make me feel better.)

My competitive nature seems to revolve mostly around trying to beat him at everything. It's a road headed to heartbreak for me, however, as he is naturally gifted in just about everything he tries, and extremely intelligent to boot. I kind of hate him. As of yet, I have never beat him at a single board or card game.

I have spent my life being better than most people in most things, yet coming to terms with the fact that I'm not actually that great. So I don't know why my inner ten-year-old "I'm the best at everything" comes out when he and I play games. Or why the person I love most in the world is also the person I'll do anything to be better than.

No, not better. As good as. It seems to be the death of my self-confidence sometimes to be with someone and feel like I'm not as good as they are in all things. I know it's futile, and one that could ruin me and the relationship if I don't keep control of it. Thank god I'm not an actor, and he not a social worker. It's better when I cultivate my own life and talents.

In bed later, after I got over myself, we talked about it. He said that his classmates, the girls we had over for dinner, view me as being extremely self-confident. I talk about my job quite a bit with them, and they have relationship talks with Tim a lot, so I think that's where their perception comes from. Because I am really confident about my abilities job-wise, it makes me think that I should just stick to doing things I know how to do, or am already good at. But, oddly, the confidence I am finding in my work leads me to feel (slightly more) confident about doing things I am not good at, or have never done before.

Too bad that doesn't bleed over into learning new board games. But at least the new confidence is affecting the important parts of my life. If I'm unable to play board games maturely, but can lead small group discussion or listen empathically to someone in crisis and help her, well, I think it'll be ok.


Blogger angiepants said...

Dude, that is SO me, Ellie. I get the exact way with Duane when we play games, especially if he's got to teach me. I don't really know why, so maybe I'll steal your explanation.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Skeezix said...

LE, I totally get what you are saying. I am the same way on occassion. The occassions being when I am playing/working with really chauvanistic men. I want to kick their asses and make them clean up the mess in order to prove how much fucking better I am than they are.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh el, do you really think this is something new? the way you described playing games with tim just brings back soo many memories of "fun" times playing games with you. seriously, i think this is a something you are just going to have to accept about yourself, its been ingrained since childhood. :) i bet you could kick tim's ass at settler's of catan, but then you'll never know..

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit this is not something I knew about you ellie! I don't think competiveness is a bad trait and the fact that you totally face it and accept it even makes it a wonderful part of your character. I mean, yes, if let out of control of course it could be a disaster for your relationship, but you seem to have a good handle on it and i totally admire that. You've got spark!
Me on the other hand. I am completely non-competetive and that can sometimes mean i am very boring. seriously.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, that last one was me, charity!!!

10:55 PM  

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