Competitive Spirit

 

KICKING DEPRESSIONS BUTT!

Due to my illness, I now have major confidence issues, which unfortunately dictate how I live my life. As someone suffering with depression, I have to admit I’ve become a bit of a defeatist and a master of putting myself down! I can soon start to feel useless and incapable of the simplest of tasks. That’s why it’s so important to keep reminding myself that I am good at things and not to shy away from my successes. Table tennis has brought me many successes over the years and become an integral part of my life.

competitive spirit

In the past I have represented my county. In order to do this I had to be ranked in the top three players. That meant that out of over five million people living in Yorkshire, I was rated second best in my age group. I know people might say it’s no big deal, it’s only table tennis, but it takes a hell of a lot of hard work and dedication to reach that standard at any sport. I’ve been playing since I was six years old. Back then I used to find the game extremely frustrating. It took me well over ten years and a number of coaches, to get anywhere near to mastering it. To be chosen to play at that level was fantastic and I felt immense pride every time I put my team shirt on. I knew that however much I managed to fuck up the rest of my life, it’s something that no one could ever take away from me and a feat that few other people will ever accomplish.

The funny thing is I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a competitive person, the majority of games and sports I take part in, I couldn’t care less whether I win or lose, as long as I don’t stand out as being really bad. Table Tennis is the exception to this rule. Right from the first time I picked a bat up, as a six year old at a Butlins holiday camp. I’ve become addicted and devoted to being the best I can. Why this sport, as apposed to others? Well, as a child I tried to be good at numerous things but it never really bothered me if I wasn’t, I was always very laid back in that respect. I could quite easily enjoy an activity without being the best at it.

For whatever reason it wasn’t like this for me with Table Tennis. I found the game excruciating, why wasn’t the ball going where I wanted it to? Why couldn’t I keep it on the table for more than two shots? Why was my brother so much better than me! For the remainder of our stay I played every day in an attempt to improve and my parents had to endure several strops from me along the way. By the end of the week I was completely hooked and was setting my sights on becoming world champion, as you do as a six year old!

These days I don’t take it half as seriously, I mainly just play for fun in the local leagues and enjoy the social side of the game. All this aside though, I haven’t lost my competitive spirit. One thing that’s always remained the same is my hatred of losing, and I still do everything in my power to avoid this from happening. I’m not as naturally gifted as most of the top league players, but what I lack in ability I make up for in tactical nous. Over the years I have defeated many better players than myself, purely due to having a better strategy than them.

As I’ve touched upon earlier in other posts, I get on extremely well with my teammates and people from the opposing teams, but when I’m at the table, I become very single minded and determined to beat whoever’s in front of me. There’s plenty of time for pleasantries later in the pub! When I’m up against a formidable opponent, I double my efforts and tend to relish the challenge.

I hope I can adopt this same approach to other challenges in my life, such as dealing with my depression and moving on in the future. I need to view every obstacle I come up against as a new opponent and just like with an opponent; I can weigh it up and adopt the right strategy to beat it. When I put it like this, it seems relatively simple but I’m not naïve enough to believe it will be that easy.

A SPORTING MENTALITY

Nerves can be a good thing. This is especially evident in competitive sports. Obviously if you’re far too nervous, you risk going into self- destruct mode and not be capable of doing anything. But on the flip side to this, if you’re not nervous at all, maybe you don’t care enough! Top sports stars use their nerves to there advantage, they have learnt to channel this energy and the adrenaline rush, to use to there advantage. A certain amount of nervous energy actually enhances there performance.

competitive spirit

A sporting great such as Roger Federer has a very interesting outlook. when interviewed after a match. However much the interviewer pushes him, asking questions or making predictions about winning the overall tournament, he says he never looks so far ahead, and I believe him. Top sports stars have several special qualities. They have to have, to play at the level they do. Single mindedness and that extra grit and determination, not to mention their undoubted talent and natural ability, are all key ingredients in their success. But I believe most important is the ability to remain in the present and focus on one thing at once. They don’t think about winning an event or even who they’re likely to meet in the next round. All they focus on is winning the next point and how they’re going to play the next shot.

This is a great mentality to have and one you can take into other aspects of life, when undertaking any given task. Last week my friend and I started doing some gardening work for an elderly neighbor. At first glance we were both shocked by what we saw, the task appeared overwhelming and even insurmountable. we couldn’t believe what we’d let ourselves in for! The area between too garages had clearly been used as a dumping ground for rubbish and judging by the amount, this had been going on for a long long time. We’d have to clear this before we even got to the garden. To say the garden was overgrown was a massive understatement, In fact the jungle that confronted us was inexplicable. It reminded me a bit of the fairy tale sleeping beauty and the endless thorn bushes surrounding the castle. I now knew what the prince must have felt like trying to get to the princess!  Instead of freaking out,we broke the task down into manageable segments and before we knew it we’d cleared the rubbish and was making a start on the garden. We haven’t finished yet but by taking it one small step at a time and bottling up all our competitive spirit, it won’t be long before we’ve achieved what first appeared to be an impossible job.

 

It’s OK To Be Different

Perspective

Who cares if you don’t conform to societies expectations, the only opinion that truly counts is your own. What’s wrong with being a little bit different anyway? We’re all unique and we’re all special in our own way. At the same time though, to counteract that statement, we’re all equally insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Hundreds of years from now people aren’t likely to remember what you did in your lifetime. Whether you do good or bad, you’re successful or not, it’s not really important as memories of you will evaporate over time. So with all that in mind why on earth do we put so much pressure on ourselves?  It makes me laugh when we’re described as the superior species on the planet.

Its ok to be differentThis Zebra is able to walk within 20 minutes of being born and is running within it’s first hour! On the other hand, a human baby would take 14 to 15 months to accomplish the same fete.

 

Its ok to be differentThese ants can lift up to 50 times their own body weight and drag objects 30 times heavier than them. Remarkable creatures when you consider the equivalent would mean an average human being able to lift an Asian Elephant or a large transit van!

 

I love watching nature programs and discovering interesting facts such as these. They remind me that we’re all just animals after all and we all have the same right to live on this planet as anything else does, no more or no less. We are a tiny part of something much greater than we’ll ever fully understand. For the deep thinkers amongst us it’s pointless trying to over complicate things, you can spend your whole life searching for answers and end up regretting the time you’ve wasted! Life is far to short and far to precious to do this.

It’s OK To Be Different

On a Saturday night I love nothing more than sitting in front of the tele with a lager in my hand, watching ‘match of the day’, normally whilst shouting abuse at the referee and cursing my team for not scoring enough goals. Some might call this laddish behavior but I won’t, as I don’t want to be accused of sexism! Earlier in the evening I’d watch a romantic comedy staring Jenifer Aniston, I have to admit I do like a good rom-com. I’d follow this by watching my favorite couples on ‘strictly come dancing’ (hardly the most masculine of programs!)

I like watching ‘top gear’ but I’m also a big fan of ‘the great British bakeoff’. I enjoy watching the soaps such as ‘Coronation Street’ but also like series such as ‘the walking dead’- a bloodthirsty program about flesh eating zombies.

I think of this as being unusual but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just unusual that I admit to having such random taste. I’m sure there’s lots of closet fans out there who secretly watch ‘X factor’ on a Saturday night and then tell their friends that they’d never watch such rubbish!

I am a sensitive, giving person but equally at times I can come across as resolute and unyielding. You could describe some of my traits, as being masculine but it’s also fair to say I have a number of feminine qualities. In the past I’ve enjoyed a night out with the lads, drinking pints and propping up the bar, but I’ve had just as much fun being out with the girls drinking cocktails and dancing the night away. I’m sorry if this is coming across as stereotyping, it just happens to be how it is for me with my friends. The truth is I’m able to contribute well to both sets of groups but don’t find myself a perfect match to either.

The happiest people in life are those who couldn’t care less what others think of them. Having their own unique identity and never being ashamed of who they are. This is the sort of person I’m striving to be and even though I’m becoming less self-conscious all the time, I still have a long way to go.

Who’d of thought this menacing looking guy would be into decorating fairy cakes and flower arranging! before anyone comments I know he’s a cartoon character, but you get the gist!

 

   The sad reality is that I know people like this, who would hide such guilty pleasures in an attempt to keep up their macho persona. Who are so terrified of other peoples judgement, they keep secret the things that they love to do. Going back to our menacing looking friend above, why would he be so reluctant to share his passions. There’s nothing there to be ashamed of after all and it would only be a narrow-minded person who thought any differently. The fact that he has these hidden depths makes him so much more intriguing. I play table tennis in the local league, I’m ashamed to say I kept this fact from past girlfriends as I presumed they’d laugh at me. One in particular I didn’t tell for 6 months! I even invented a night school college course, to explain where I was every Wednesday night. Looking back now, I can’t believe what lengths I went too.

I’ve spent the majority of my life attempting to fit in with certain groups of people. You could say I’ve failed miserably at this, or you could say that it’s took me until now to realize that it’s perfectly ok to be different, in fact it’s great to be an individual. If everyone was the same the world would be an exceedingly dull place. Sometimes the best thing you can do is accept that you’re unique and stop trying so hard to be something you’re not. This is a brave thing to do and people will envy you for it, they might even wish they were more like you themselves.