My whole life I have been raised as a Quaker homeschooler, so I have not been placed into different classes or grades. Every year I have to guess what grade I’m in. Right now it’s between sixth or seventh. For the last two years my mom and I have been debating this, but that sort of age or ability separation is not important in the homeschool world. Nor does it matter where people live. I’m friends with people from many different towns. I don’t feel competitive just because someone lives in a different town and attends a different school.
My noncompetitive homeschooling background has formed my opinion about competition. I don’t believe competition should put people against one another, but instead be for the good of the community.
I don’t understand the people who are fanatical about competitive sports like football, softball, and basketball. Whenever I am asked what my favorite sport is, I say my favorite “sport” is riding horses, which is technically a sport but their idea of a sport is different from my idea of a sport. I don’t ride for medals or trophies; I ride because I love horses—their sounds, smells, and movements, and of course, it doesn’t hurt that they look as gorgeous as they do!
I feel that competition (like games and sports and such) depends on the eye of the beholder. It is like beauty; you might not think that your aunt is beautiful, but her husband (or wife) definitely thinks so. Games like capture the flag and everybody’s it (or banana tag) really do depend on the community. I think it’s okay to play cooperative games like these with other people, as long as you are doing it in the right mind. For example, at Camp Woodbrooke (a Quaker camp in Wisconsin that I’ve attended for the last five years), whenever we play one of those games, it leaves me and the other campers sweaty, happy, laughing, and ready to go sing songs together. Not once have I felt bitter because my group of friends or teammates lost the game. Even though winning definitely feels good, that sort of joy is fleeting. I prefer to be full of ecstasy because I played the game, not because I won it.
There are lots of different types of competition. There’s competition with friends, sibling competition (I run into that one a lot with my very own two younger siblings), sports, board games, and more. Sometimes competition can be good. Since my parents had my younger brother and sister, I have become more independent and more responsible. My siblings compete for my mom’s attention, and I used to join in on that. Now I am more mellow and patient.
I wonder if my schooling has given me a different point of view about competition. Competition should never be about us versus them; it should be about hanging out with friends and family and having a good time. It should be about finding your limits, and supporting others to find theirs.