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Unhealthy Competition
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I’ve been a victim of unhealthy competition. I’ve been guilty of subjecting myself to unhealthy situations, but I’ve also been guilty of negatively competing with myself. We all want to be our best but sometimes our desire to be our best trumps our ability to see our talent come to fruition. We get in our own way by doubting ourselves and our ability. We choose to focus on what isn’t as opposed to what is. We arrive at practice feeling sluggish and reticent to dive in. A cloud looms over our head, and with every step we take we feel the thickness of the air move with us.

Fortunately not every day feels like this, but I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never had an off day. Off days are like rashes. The more we scratch, the worse it gets. When we’re down it’s really hard to step out of the fog and into the light. It’s not easy to change our perspective as we fight our self-pity and unconscious desire to pile on. Like magnets we attract what we put out there, so whether or not we choose to emit this negative energy, we can choose how much of it we want to carry with us. These are the days and the moments that challenge us. They require us to reflect. We can choose to focus on all of the unhealthy relationships in our lives, the toxic people we’ve met along the way, or dwell on mistakes we’ve made in the past, or we can finally forgive ourselves, stop the avalanche in its tracks and snap out of it. Sound easy? I think not.

Call Me Selfish
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Call Me Selfish

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines the word selfish as, having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people. If I were to pick this definition apart and play devil’s advocate, I’d ask, “Does focusing on yourself have to be a bad thing especially if it isn’t at the expense of others?” Everyone’s so quick to name-call and conclude that certain people or their actions are selfish but some of these allegations are false positives. They lack the additional information one would need to prove the other person’s selfish actions are in fact, selfish.

I saw an old friend today: a friend who once upon a time happened to be my best friend and today I was reminded of why. Nothing ever happened to create our distance, we just lost touch. Ecstatic to reconnect I did wonder if we would pick up where we left off, and for whatever reason wasn’t too worried that we’d have little in common.

Life happens. People live it and they go through the motions so much so that they forget the people they meet along the way. We become victims of routine and get lost in our comfort zones. In reconnecting with my friend I felt a hole in my heart fill with joy and a feeling of completeness. I’m not even sure I knew this hole existed.

After giving one another the kind of hug you give a loved one after years of being away, we sat down and got right to it. She asked me what was new. Knowing that we’re both the kind of people who do not beat around the bush I replied, “which do you want first, the good or the bad?” She laughed and said, “Yeah, right. Whichever you’d like to share first.” Not only was this interaction the antithesis of every fake interaction I’ve been unfortunate to have endured throughout my life, but it was home. There were no games. Perhaps our ability to see through one another allowed our honesty to just flow, but I think there was more.

In promoting my book, Life. Game On! A Competitor’s Guide, I’ve taken it upon myself to spread positivity by endorsing healthy competition. In doing so, I’ve met some wonderful people with great questions. One of the questions I keep getting asked is, “Dani, you promote healthy competition, but how does that play into the whole everyone gets a trophy mentality?” Short answer, it doesn’t. Everyone does not get a trophy. Come on people. I’m not sure who these parents are who are so afraid to let their children experience real emotions. Since when does everyone have to win? That’s not competition. Much like our overly political correct antics which now prevent an OCD Christmas sweater from seeing the light of day for fear of its supposed “offensiveness,” this mindset imposes its beliefs and values upon others without even granting them the option of being able to choose which philosophy they’d like to ascribe to. Who are these parents and what are they trying to accomplish by eliminating the concept of winners and losers? If I am to try to understand how these individuals think, I guess I’d argue on their behalf and sympathize with the fact that they are just being caring parents who would never like to see their child frown or be disappointed. That’s great in theory but that ain’t life.

“I look better than she does, don’t I?” “I’m a faster swimmer than the other people in my lane.” “At least my Facebook profile looks like I’ve been having a blast even if I wish my life were more interesting.”

When it comes to competition, we can be ruthless to ourselves and others. With our “take no prisoners” attitude and our quest to be the best, we sometimes find our thoughts running ahead of our logic and guiding our emotions toward the dark side. We all want to be wise like Yoda, or at least live our lives according to his standards. So why does keeping our cool and maintaining our balance often feel like a test we doubt we will pass? When it comes to our wants, our needs, and our desires, a competitive switch inside us becomes ignited. We begin to form goals and sometimes those goals evolve into dreams. We become emotionally invested in our new pursuits and carry our competitive attitudes with us. More often than not, we do this without even being aware of our behavior.

Technological Torture
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Technological Torture

I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love having it but I also hate that I’ve become a slave to it. There are certain technological advancements I find it hard to live without. I love my TV. I love that there are a bazillion channels I can choose from. When none of the programming on TV appeals to me, I love that I can rely on Amazon and Netflix to entertain me. I find all of these technological advancements a luxury but they’ve also become a necessity.

Sports Etiquette
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Behave yourself! Are you frustrated by fellow competitors who refuse to follow the rules? I am. When it comes to playing a sport few things get in the way of having fun. One of those things is etiquette.

I’ve been swimming competitively my whole life. I know the rules of the pool and I know the importance of abiding by them. I do however, also know what it’s like to walk into a completely different surrounding and have absolutely no idea what you should and should not do.

What Makes A Good Friend?

If you have to ask whether or not someone is a good friend, they’re probably not. My brother has the most amazing group of friends. He met them all in high school. They’re this phenomenal group of guys who have managed to grow up without growing apart. What’s so fascinating about this group of guys, is that each one of them is so completely different. I’m not kidding. I’ve never seen anything like it. Like crayons in a coloring box, they all have their own distinct identity but blend perfectly when mixed together.

It wasn’t until my brother’s wedding this past April, that I looked around and realized how truly lucky he is. His friends are so accepting of one another, I find it to be completely refreshing when I’m in their presence. They’re not trying to be liked they just are. In fact, none of them are trying at all; which is probably what makes their relationship so special.

Unsolicited Opinions
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When I think about unsolicited opinions I think about people giving negative unwanted opinions. Like a person taking aim at a dart board without paying attention to see you extracting your darts from that same board, they shoot blindly and make you the new target. Why do people insist on raining on someone else’s parade?

I’m in the process of publishing my first book. It’s something I’m REALLY excited about. Writing has always been a passion of mine. Too afraid to pursue writing professionally, I always put my dream on the back burner, until now. Why? Chasing your dream is scary. It requires chutzpah.

Urban Dictionary defines happiness as, “A small metal hinged box with pointy edges, rapped with barbed-wire and hidden in a dark room full of electric eels, razor-blades, piles of salt crystals with fans behind them and random pools of lemon juice.” It then useshappiness in a sentence. “I heard Bob died looking for happiness.” While I’m not sure how to respond to this definition, it has received over 1,533 likes. That’s a lot of people liking a distorted definition of happiness which basically tells people that happiness is like sitting on a bicycle with no seat. Painful.

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