Ever since I can remember, I loved to compete.
Be it horse shows, tennis, running, talent shows, pageants, bikini contests, and even pretend horse shows using pool noodles in my family’s above-ground, competition was always something I craved.
Oddly enough, winning never was.
Which is a good thing, as it wasn’t something that happened a lot.
(Although I DID win the “Longest Tounge” contest at Spinnaker’s Bar in Jackson, the “Best Ass” contest at Rick’s in Starkville, MS, and a few “Miss Budweiser” titles, but I mean, who’s counting?)
Seriously, though, I always loved a contest. The problem is, I’m really not that competitive. (A fact that drove my mother nuts, I’m sure!) I loved to put myself out there, but if I didn’t win, most of the time, I didn’t care. I got really excited about any placing I could get! To be fair, there were a few times where I should have won a pageant or a horse show as a teenager, and I would get a little ticked off, but hey, life lessons, man.
I think I just liked doing a lot of different things, and it’s really hard to be the best a everything, ya know?
As I got older, I still loved to compete in anything I could… half-marathons, which I loved until endometriosis made it so that running 13.1 miles was an impossibility, tennis, and now that I’m back into horses as an adult, horse shows have become a regular activity for my husband and I. Seriously, I wish we could have picked a cheaper hobby, but here we are. There’s something crazy addictive about horses, and once you get a taste, you’re done.
We actually competed in a local horse show today, and on the way home, it got me thinking…
Winning Isn’t Everything.
We didn’t place well today at the show. I mean, both horses (and us!) did our best, but the judge’s card just didn’t fall in our favor. Which is fine. I’m so happy with my horse and how far she has come these past two years. Her first horse show back in 2020, she went absolutely bananas. Like, embarrasingly so. She was terrified of everything. She also was not a fan of horse trailers, other horses, any kind of noise, wind, air, announcers… and thought it was super fun to play Kentucky Derby with other horses in the arena, and then have explosive nervous diarrhea all over her back legs. (I mean, she still does that sometimes, but the other things she got over).
The fact that she has overcome all of those fears and has become a calm, happy horse in almost every situation is way more important than any ribbon. Do we have things to work on? Oh, hell yeah. But in life we all have things we need to work on, and the day that you don’t, well, you may as well hang it up. The same goes for my husband’s horse. He used to be a nervous nelly who would spook at trees and trot so hard your ovaries would be in your eyeballs. Now he’s a great all-around horse and can jog as smooth as whiskey.
It’s the little improvements in life…
I’ve been told all of my life how good I could be if I just tried harder. If I trained harder I could crack 7 minute miles, if I took more lessons, I could be a better tennis player, if I devoted myself to the gym and quit eating carbs and drinking wine (and got breast implants) I would be a perfect fitness/bikini competitor… If I didn’t marry a soldier, I wouldn’t have torpedoed my career and could have gone farther in radio. My horse would have a slower lope and better upward transitions if I rode 5 days a week… the list goes on and on.
Yes, that’s all true. Aboslutely. But you know what? I really don’t care.
I’ve enjoyed the hell out of these past 40 years. I’ve done everything I have cared to do, and got to live out my dreams. Perhaps not on a massive stage, but WHO CARES?
I used to let the people who told me I could be better get to me, but in recent years, I’ve realized that getting to do what I love every day and enjoying my life, well, that’s the biggest win of all.
Someone once told me that the phrase “Winning Isn’t Everything” is something that only losers say.
I don’t agree.
As long as you are enjoying yourself, learning as you go, and being a good person while you do it, well… that’s better than any trophy or accolade.
Life is short. Enjoy it.
Winning is just an extra.