Now there’s a word you can’t just say normally. You have to use a gravelly voice and draw out the ‘s’ sound. Nemesisss.That’s better. And let me clear one thing up for any of you non-sci-fi peeps who happen to be reading today. If it’s not obvious from the pic, I’m a Trekker. Not a Trekkie. Yes, there is a difference. While I have nothing but the utmost respect for Spock, Chekov, Sulu and Kirk, I definitely prefer Jean-Luc Picard and crew. And speaking of Picard, this is his nemesisss – Praetor Shinzon. Creepy huh?
Back to the topic now. Sorry about the minor tangent, but I had to clear that up. Growing up in the ‘burbs and living there now, it seems that I’ve pretty much always had a nemesis of some sort – because being in and around the city so much has exposed me to all sorts of people with all sorts of talents. At least since middle school. It has to do with my competitive streak. See, I’m an only child, a perfectionist, and extremely competitive. Always have been. No matter what it was, I’ve always wanted to be at the top of the heap and have focused insane amounts of energy to get there. Which, for some reason, has always put me in a position of having a nemesis – real or imagined.
At first these nemeses were purely musical in nature. My Number One Competitor in middle school actually had the audacity to be better than me. She beat me in not one, but two auditions. How dare she?? My overachieving brain couldn’t handle that, so I threw everything I had into practicing and becoming a better musician. But it became more than that. It wasn’t enough to just improve – I had to beat her. And not just musically. Looks, popularity, dates, all of it – I was determined to be better than her.
Of course I failed miserably. My short, skinny, dorky mouthful-of-braces self couldn’t compete with the tall-blonde-blue-eyed-outgoingness of her personality. But that didn’t stop me from trying – for about five years. And – go figure – when I finally did finish ahead of her in an audition, she wasn’t friendly anymore. Go figure. Should have been a life lesson, right?
Wrong, of course. Other nemeses followed. Not just musical – social as well. That dumb competitive streak outgrew the musical side of me and extended to everything. Boys? I’ve gotta admit, I gave it my best shot – but always lost out there. Seriously. I’m not kidding when I say that my First Date Ever – to homecoming – asked me to take his mom’s place selling Cokes in the corner so that he could dance with her. No lie. You can’t make this stuff up.
And as an adult – once I quit the music scene – there was always someone I had to beat. Can you say ‘competitive streak run amok?’ I can. Try it five times fast. The person who always tried to be the center of attention at work-related gatherings? I’d get mad every time, feel slighted and try that much harder to get more attention. Just like a kid – negative attention was ok, as long as it was attention.
Even today. One of my coworkers jokingly asked if someone I mentioned in a conversation was My Nemesis. When I stopped to think about it – I realized that he was right. There’s someone out there right now whose every word and action just burns me up. They love to toot their own horn, and often! Really. You can actually see the steam coming out of my ears – I’ve looked. And what’s my natural fight-or-flight response? Competition, of course. Some part of my Id (wow! A Freudian reference! Some part of Ed Psych must have stuck!) kicks into high gear at the very thought of this person and acts out – to be smarter, more talented, more positive, less narcissistic, prettier, a better parent, you name it – just so I can feel like I won. It’s driven me to some pretty petty acts lately. Not gonna go into specifics there – it’s too embarrassing.
So what gives? Why is it that my stupid competitive streak can’t just find a POSITIVE outlet for once? Just once? Because I’m tired of competing over things that don’t matter to anyone but me. Very tired. I mean, it’s not like someone is going to give me a medal for this. Wait, they actually might. Biggest Crazy Idiot Trophy.
Am I the only one out there with this problem? Is it, as my spouse so tough-lovingly says, ‘a woman thing?’ How do you deal with competition run amok? Any and all comments welcome please. Hey, if there are lots of us, maybe I could start a support group. Thoughts?