” Winners forget that they are in a race, they just love to run.” – Fortune Cookie
Disclaimer: Jonesitis is a terrible disease. In most cases, people suffer from envy, low self-esteem, comparing themselves to others and procrastination. Many people are troubled from this ailment daily, but have been undiagnosed for many years. The only known cure for Jonesitis is to become more self-aware of the individual beauty that one possess.
My former employer was a community based organization that was always involved in different outings. One of my favorite ventures was a big cookout that featured local bands. The goal of the cookout was to raise money and donate it to the organization that would come out and sell raffle tickets during the event. It was like the Woodstock for non-profit organizations and I loved the scene.
One year, the Executive Director and I had this crazy notion that we would make tie-dye shirts ( but that’s another story for another day).
The following year, we decided that it would be best to pick a color that everyone could wear orange. I was sent to the Goodwill to find shirts for everyone. As I scanned the racks, I found what seemed to be a baseball jersey with the number 2 on it- I fell in love with it. Since I was the Administrative Assistant, I had the advantage of claiming ‘ grabbies’ when our company received clothing donations- and I used this perk every chance I got. Like this memory, I still have this shirt and I wear it often.
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston
The year I picked this shirt I had an answer for why I initially became smitten with the 2nd hand jersey that bore the number 2. I said that aiming for 2nd place was easier than going for the gold and I was perfectly fine with being known as the other girl. I even posed the question: If the number 2 pencil was the most commonly used pencil, why was it number 2?
Though I seemed perfectly fine with being 2nd best, I was not perfectly fine with being 2nd best- and my actions and reactions resounded louder than my words. I needed the praise and admiration of my peers and I was willing to gain it by any means necessary. I constantly found myself competing with not only others, but myself as well- always trying to prove my relevance to the company. This struggle spilled over into my social media profiles with many rants about how intellectually superior I am compared to others and the blocking of anyone who disagreed. I was an attention tyrant who could not be stopped…
Then, I found myself unemployed.
I was lower than number 2, I wasn’t even in the race. For two years, I had considered myself one of the pillars of an establishment but now found myself alone in a desolate place. I was forced to examine the thoughts, actions and deeds that had gotten me to this place. I began with the jersey situation.
Why was I trying to convince myself that I was willing to be overlooked?
Was I really okay with playing second fiddle?
These questions plagued my thoughts causing me to take an inventory of myself. My tyrannical reign did not begin at my former employer, it began when I became an older sister-I willingly confess that I do suffer from Middle Child Syndrome. The birth of my sister evoked my need for competition. For about three years I was the only girl and had the adoration of my family. It was not hard for me to claim the spotlight because I was the center of the universe-or so it seemed. Then one morning, my brother and I were riding in the back of a truck that had a U-Haul connected to it. I fell asleep talking with my brother. I woke up and had a baby sister.
To my understanding, there were other instances that had transpired but I can only remember these glimpses of the past.
Overnight, I went from being the adorable little baby to the older sister- a position that I was unready to fill at the time. I went from tea parties with my brother to coloring by myself in my room. I immediately started to act out for my well deserved attention, but unfortunately those attempts did not turn out so well for myself (or my rear-end). After a while, I had gotten immune to the whippings and punishments, I began to do more life altering things. I had a daughter at the age of 14; barely graduated high school; married and divorced by 21 – the list goes on. I was willing to pay a high price for my attention fix and no one was going to come between me and my high.
Since the birth of my sister I made destructive decisions to prove my worth among both my family and other peers. This behavior has brought a strain between me and my sister, but throughout this tumultuous time, she has been my voice of reason and best friend throughout my life. She has taught me the power of self-discipline and determination and has always been proud to call me big sister. Her birth was only placing me in second by birth order, not in my worth.
Competition forces us to compare ourselves to others. When we decide to compare ourselves, we lose out on the opportunity to learn a new trait or gain a different perspective of life.
Society teaches us that there is only room for one winner so we fight our way to the top. We do whatever it takes to be number one. We do things, most times unconsciously, that could detour our fellow-man from reaching their goals and dreams. When we realize that everyone that enters our lives helps us to grow as individuals, we begin to see people for what they are- Divine teachers.
* All images found on http://www.google.com