There’s a huge gulf between winning and contentment.
If you want to be happy, your best bet is to aim for the latter. It’s possible to be content all the time, but no one wins all the time.
Like the saying goes, Win some, Lose some.
Let’s take sports for instance. The popular mantra is, “Aim for the gold, nobody remembers second place”. But the reality is not everyone makes it to first place. Or second. Or third. Not everyone can. So, should that diminish your happiness? What of the athlete who broke her personal best record at the finals? If she defines herself by the fact that she didn’t take home any medals, she’s missing the bigger picture.
She just pushed herself harder than ever! She should be celebrating. The person on the podium, with the gold hanging down her neck may have already peaked. But here you are, still growing.
What more could a human being want?
If you scoffed as you read that, you may already be caught in the competition web. According to research, a competitive mindset generates constant tension and stress in life. It also never produces permanent satisfaction, because once the victory is attained, the next one is quickly sought after. It’s like an addiction. A focus on winning can also introduce a continuous state of dissatisfaction with one’s life.
This applies a lot to writers and their writing. A lot of times we want to judge ourselves based on accolades and praises we receive. It’s okay to win awards, especially as awards help you get more readers. But don’t fall into the trap of being validated by awards. Or even what people say. “Oh you were robbed, you should have won that award.”
Don’t buy into it. And don’t tell it to yourself. It’s a trap. Trust me.
Never base your sense of self worth on your ability. Some people write better than others. I’ve come across writers, in person and on the internet, that make me shake my fist at the sky, at God, yelling, “why can’t I write this well?!”
Nevertheless, I get to the office everyday and I write my heart out. A lot of times, what I write sucks. But once in a while, I hit it out of the park. But win or lose, I’ve settled it in my mind: my writing doesn’t define me. What people say doesn’t define me either.
I’m just trying to be the best writer I can be. And that’s good enough for me.
Let it be good enough for you too.