Competitiveness. Friend or Foe?


I don’t always view myself as a great blogger. Marijo always told me to write my blogs when I feel like it versus feeling I had to, so here goes:

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I feel my personality is slipping back to pre-flesh-eating. I’m not proud to confess that before I got sick, I could tend to be critical or negative by nature. One of the good things that came out of Flesh Eating Disease was that when I awoke, I was so thankful to be alive that it seemed as though I was able to see life through a more positive lense.

As time passes, I find myself slipping back into my old habits, hearing the echo of my voice as I absent-mindedly complain about a commercial, or a telemarketer.

Competitiveness is also a character trait of mine, and that has not changed. Being competitive is mostly viewed as a positive thing, but it can have a negative side. For me, it can make me a bit of a sore loser. I was never an elite athlete – never excelling at any one sport and only participating at the ones I thought I could do well in. In my new life without limbs, I am growing to love race sailing. With the Paralympics on right now, I wonder “could I be in those games?” After a bit of research, I am finding out it’s no easy task. It’s a big financial commitment and an even bigger time commitment. The main thing is that you have to display talent to get recognized – and lots of it.

So on Sunday this week Marijo and I head to Ottawa for our big regatta of the year. I race for 4 consecutive days against sailors from around the world. We are all in the same model of boat – a Martin 16. The competitive nature in me wants to win but I am trying to focus on doing the best I can and having a good time while I’m at it. But competition changes me a bit and sometimes gives me an edge that I am not proud of. I get nervous and rack my brain to figure out where the advantages are and how to see wind that’s pretty much invisible. As I confront the feelings inside of me, I want to be the guy who woke up two years ago simply happy to be alive.

Hopefully I’ll find that happy blend between being competitive and happy. That said, I do believe it is exactly my competitive nature that allowed me to beat Flesh Eating, but I also believe you go through life learning and appreciating that you are always capable of becoming a better person and what worked yesterday might not work for today.

The weekend following the regatta, Marijo and I head back to Ottawa to participate in the Army Run. Marijo will do the 1/2 marathon (poor thing) and I will do a 5km in the amputee division. My goal is to complete this using only a cane. We have both been hard at training over the past month or so. I couldn’t do any of this with out the support of Marijo who in her own way gently guides me around to all of these activities.

I’ve finally stopped blaming my boats or my prosthetics when I fail. I simply want to smile now and meet many new friends and, of course… I have to win …… right?

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