...as in board games, card games, etc.
Growing up, I had three brothers (and we are all a year apart...Rich, Steve, Chris, and Joe). Given that crew, games such as Monopoly and Life weren't all that uncommon, along with the odd card game of War, what passed for Poker (in our minds) and probably other things I am forgetting. Back then, I felt an intense need to win. Maybe having fun was part of the supposed reason for playing, along with keeping young boys busy, but that didn't occur to me. No, it was about coming out on top. It was about beating my brothers. That was my mission, and as I recall, I was fairly successful.
When I think about the paths we (my brothers and myself) have taken, that "have to win" mentality certainly played out for me time and time again. Whatever and whenever my brothers had something I didn't, well, it irked me. I was losing, and I needed to win. Granted, having something of a long-term view of things helped me in all of this, as I didn't feel compelled, for example, to boost a 7-11 in order to get the money to get a better car than Chris' early 80's Plymouth Arrow. But it still stuck at me nevertheless, and I knew I had to...and would...win the car game. Just like Monopoly.
In hindsight, well, it was all so very...very...very...now what's the word? Oh, stupid. It was stupid.
Reflection and insight have taught me that I was actually competing against myself, against my own sense of having to win...of having to be "good enough". A stern self-judgment holds no quarter. At least not in my head.
So, one of the casualties of it all has been my disdain for anything resembling competition. There has been a notable exception in that I played on an ad-hoc trivia night team, but even then I could feel the intensity of the competition. I had fun doing that, but it did remind me of so many competitions of the past. And I secretly (well not secretly anymore) loved it when our team won, which it did from time to time. For the record, I never would have played trivia without the invitation from a former co-worker, and I am grateful to her for the ask.
Where does this leave me?
I'm still not going to play games. I'd play trivia again, but that's about it. At least for now. Maybe one day I'll be able to actually play a game for the fun of it. Granted that may have to be with grandchildren, but that does give me something to look forward to.
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