Thoughts inspired by bowling, I
I tend to not think of myself as a particularly competitive person. (I'm sure there are those out there who would disagree with me, but like I said, this is how I think of myself.) I wasn't really tossed into a competitive environment until high school, and while it was true that Lowell was a very competitive environment, I didn't really feel the need to be competitive myself; I suppose, essentially, I had enough confidence in myself that I didn't worry that one poor performance would destroy my ability to get into a good college, or whatever. I didn't end up at the very top of the class, and I didn't really care; because of the way the system at Lowell worked, you had to take as many honors classes as you possibly could to get a maximal GPA, and so if you took classes which weren't honors, even if you did perfectly in them, you could end up with a lower GPA. Consequently, I took things like band and Latin (the latter being too small to have a separate honors course, so it was all non-honors, except for AP Latin), which prevented me from being at the top, but I cared more about taking classes that I wanted to. And when I got to college and everyone was as intelligent as I was (if not more so), there was much more of an atmosphere of cooperation among equals rather than competitiveness to determine who was the best. It didn't hurt that the classes were sufficiently hard that surviving without cooperation was pretty much impossible, although there was occasionally a competitive element in some of the Core classes. Oh, sure, although we were all equals, I did want, sometimes, to be the primus inter pares, but I couldn't win every time, and so if sometimes I had to go to my friends for help, that worked fine for me.
However, to make up for it, my competitiveness seems to have moved to nonacademic areas. In things like bowling or miniature golf, where I feel that I'm probably better than an average one of my friends, I want to win, though I might not admit it (though, then again, I might). If I put up a good effort and then lose, I'll be less disappointed than if I end up not being competitive at all. When bowling on Monday, I had my usual good games interspersed with bad games, but my bads were definitely on the worse end; I very nearly failed to break 100 for the first time in many years and many games, as after eight frames, I hadn't marked once and had a 68. Fortunately, I picked up spares in both of the last two to just barely squeak over with a 105. Still, though, the bad games were infinitely more frustrating than the good games, since I knew I was capable of playing better but just wasn't able to manage it. Conversely, when playing something where I know I'm very likely to lose (say, Starcraft), I'm not likely to hang around for too long, since I really do want to win, and I know if I can't, it takes a lot of fun out of it. I'm not a bad loser, at least in the usual sense of the word, but I do tend to become impolitely uninterested in situations where I just can't win. Well, as far as faults go, I suppose I could pick worse ones to have.