Let me begin by saying that I am not a competitive person.
When I got psychologically examined before beginning my journey through seminary and candidacy for rostered ministry, I was told that I have an extremely low need for achievement.
When I engage in activities, such as games or sports or the like, the need to win is very low on my list. I participate because I want to enjoy community and have fun and be active.
This didn't translate well in junior high. Especially PE class. I can remember participating in various sports during class, and because I didn't have this intense need or desire to completely obliterate the other team, my team would often turn on me. They couldn't believe that I didn't dive for that volleyball or they couldn't believe that I was joking around instead of directing every ounce of energy and rage against the other team. This would cause me to detach even further, and I figured if I was going to get yelled at I might as well not even attempt to participate.
Now, I am an extremely energetic and fairly athletic person. I enjoy playing sports. I enjoy shooting hoops or playing Ultimate Frisbee or playing volleyball. But the minute people start getting competitive, I back away. I'd rather not participate, thank you very much. And it's not that I couldn't do a good job. It's not that I don't have what it takes to win a game of volleyball or Ultimate Frisbee. It's just not that important to me. And I'd rather spend my time doing something fun than getting yelled at because I am not "giving as much as I should."
So, tonight we have a church league softball game. Now, I am not very good at baseball or softball. I'll admit that. I stopped playing after my second or third year of tee ball because I wasn't good. I enjoyed playing, sure, but I didn't enjoy the competitiveness or my coach and teammates yelling at me because I wasn't as good as they thought I should be.
Our first game was last week, and I showed up a little late, not really intending to play, but Supervising had to leave for a meeting and gave me his glove as he left and said I could take over second base for him. I didn't have much of a choice, because without Supervising our church did not have enough players for a team. So I took his glove and walked over to second base. Now, because of my inexperience in playing organized softball or baseball, I did not know that the second baseman doesn't really stand right by second base. They stand in between first and second. So as I stand by second base I have the short stop and the first baseman shouting directions at me as to where to stand. Great. Two seconds into my first game and I've already alerted both my team AND the other team that I have no clue as to what I am doing. This is off to an amazing start.
Well, not because of my lack of skill, but because of the power hitters on the other team, the game is called after 6 innings because we are behind by a score of 1-15. They played an extra inning just because the first five went so fast. I did a fairly good job, considering the ball was only thrown to me once. And I caught it. But now it is expected that I will continue playing. Not because the team needs a person with my amazing skills and capabilities, but because the team needs a person, period.
And as I sit and think about the upcoming game this evening, my brain can't help but travel back to junior high. I know that this is different, that I'm a grown up and I'm playing with grown ups, but it's just one of my insecurities; that I'll be ridiculed because of my lack of skill or competitive drive.
How do you tell a bunch of people on a softball team, who want to win, that you have a low need for achievement?