At some point down the line, evolution was probably like, "Oh, the human race should endure and crush everything in its path, so let's make them competitive." And to some degree, competition is healthy. We're all sitting here today alive and well today because of it, aren't we? But in some cases, being competitive can get a little hand. Perfect example: ME. People always joke about the huge difference between the east and west coast, but trust me, it's real and I have lived it in its horrifying entirety. I spent almost the whole first half of my life on the west coast, where I was mildly competitive and, by virtue of that, pretty much the best at everything: I was one of the top swimmers in my age group, blew all the other kids' test scores outta the water, second chair violin, etc, etc (I am great, you get the point). So when I moved to a city in Northern Virginia just outside DC at the age of 12, I was promptly bitch-slapped by reality: People on the east coast are fierce. The other seventh graders were about ready to eat me for breakfast the day I arrived. Nothing I did was impressive anymore, and I had very little time to catch up.
It was about that time that my true insanity was revealed. I remember once screaming at a gym teacher who literally had to pry me off of the arm hang, saying that I'd gotten enough seconds in to get an "A" and I was wasting everyone's time by hanging there. That 10th grade temper tantrum became a metaphor for basically everything in my overly-competitive human life. I didn't want to be good—I wanted to be the best.
Back to my east vs. west coast comparison: I spent a month in Seattle last year for an internship. In my mind, it was this idyllic, lovely place where everyone was super chill and didn't feel the need to gut each other for walking too slow. And guess what? It was all of that, and more. It was basically utopia. The only problem was me. I had become a monster. I was racing people walking up the stairs. I yelled "PWNED" at a much older co-worker who had fewer Fitbit steps than I did. I made it my personal mission to crush all the other interns in a "teamwork" exercise that really just demonstrated how little mercy I had left in my body. I left Seattle knowing that I could never go back, at least not if I wanted to keep my arrest record clean.
And that's how it is: Being competitive can take you wonderful places, but it can also make you a person who is super awkward to be around. If you are a competitive person, you have probably spread around your awkward in all of these compromising situations:
When you go to a class at the gym for the first time
It is a basic law of humiliation that the first time you attend any class that involves physical activity, you will make a fool of yourself (unless you are Beyoncé, but outliers don't count). But that right there doesn't stop competitive folk from trying to CRUSH EVERYONE IN THEIR PATHS, which is how shin splints, awkward injuries, and accidental drooling on yoga mats happens.
Whenever you start something new in general
"I’ve been playing guitar for three minutes and I’m not Jimi Hendrix WTF?!??!" said all competitive people ever.
When there’s no subtle way to humble brag
Let's be real: We all humble brag. But I feel like the reward system in a competitive person's brain is even more dependent on it, often to an unhealthy degree. And when there is no classy, seamless way to do it. We will bulldoze a conversation to announce our best 5K time (WHICH JUST HAPPENS TO BE THIRTY SECONDS FASTER THAN YOURS, NBD).
When you’re standing in line for anything, ever
I WAS HERE FIRST and I will drop kick that stroller with your child INSIDE IT if you keep inching it past me, lady. Seriously, defending your spot in line reaches manically hysterical levels when you're competing with other people.
Whenever the gym teacher made you run the mile in school
Aw, man. I could never not sprint my ass off, which meant I got to be smug for five minutes, and smell like a human garbage can at school for the next seven hours.
Any kind of trivia night
This is actually really helpful for people who are both competitive and good at trivia, but for those of us who are competitive and deeply uncultured, this is a hot mess waiting to happen (at least the beer helps).
Playing games like The Sims
Think about it for a second: You can never win The Sims. The Sims wins you. I would get as far as rosebud cheat coding into oblivion, building a fancy house, and getting my Sim a job, and then...what? Once they finally read enough to achieve all their intellect and kitchen points, they lay down and die? THAT ISN'T WINNING. GIVE ME SOMETHING I CAN WIN. (This has just become an uncomfortable metaphor for the human condition, so I'm moving on now.)
Being happy for someone who crushed you
This is mostly just awkward because we are terrible at faking it. The smile that I smile for people who have defeated me is the kind of smile that gets serial killers locked up in prison.
Pretending to be casual when you’re not
Every now and then, competitive people will try this newfangled trend called "normalcy". One time I was trying to flirt with a guy, for instance, so I pretended it wasn't a big deal when somebody else's relay team beat ours in some stupid meet and greet exercise in college. I lasted an impressive twenty minutes before screaming "SUCK! IT! LOSERS!" at another team so loudly that I probably deafened the guy was I was trying to charm. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
When someone catches you looking at their treadmill level
I don't even mean to look. It's like my eyes are magnetized to their screens. Nobody wants to be that person at the gym, but that person exists, and that person is me.
Crying over grades
I one time bawled so hard over a "C" in math that my teacher thought I'd opened a text saying that somebody died. (It didn't help that it was school picture day, and also the first day my mother had ever let me wear makeup to school ever. #Oops.)
Racing literal strangers on the street
I will never have a meet-cute running in a park with literally anybody, because I interpret any kind of eye contact as a "BRING IT, BITCH".
Any kind of family gathering
I feel like the more siblings you have, the more you exponentially have this deep-seated NEED FOR ATTENTION, and you will totally cut down anyone in your path to get it. Think Monica and Ross on Friends, basically, except in real life, there is no laugh track. There are just a bunch of people stuffing their faces with turkey so they don't have to look at you.
When people brag about things that you can't also brag about
UGH—sometimes I just want to have kids solely so I can brag about them to other moms. I mean, that's why people have kids, right? I don't actually know what else they're good for. Same goes for when people brag about, like, their superior basket-weaving skills or badass photography. I CANNOT COMPETE and I will awkwardly grasp at straws bragging about kids I babysit, or a basket I saw once, or even just like a duck I wish I'd taken a picture of.
Whenever you're splitting a dessert with someone or multiple people
My family once caused such a scene over one of those Mudslide desserts at Red Robin that other families paused on their way out the door watching us nearly stab each other. Desserts make savages of us all, but competitive people in particular. There is no time for politeness with chocolate at stake. BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME, SORE LOSERS.
Images: NBC; Giphy(11)