One of the Gang

All of my friends got medals this weekend.  My roommate (the one closest to me in the picture) even got two.  And I was back on the ground taking photos for everyone.

Yes, I feel a little bit sad.  Who wouldn't?  I've been up there twice (although not in this particular event, Vet Combined as opposed to Vet 40s), and, yes, I liked it.  The question is, why?  Why does it make so much difference whether one gets on the medals podium or not?

I used to think that it was because being up there on the podium would prove something about my fencing, that I was good enough.  But, again, good enough for what?  To fence?  I'm already that.  Even the fencer who comes dead last in the event is good enough to fence.  Nobody has to earn the right to compete, at least not as such. Sure, getting up on the medals podium usually means that you got to fence more on that particular day, but, again, it isn't like all those of us standing round taking photos didn't get to fence at all.  So what makes being up on that podium so special?

I was thinking about this all day yesterday as I was coming home from the tournament, and I think I know.  I feel left out.  I want to be up there because that's where my friends are, and I'm afraid if I'm not up there that they won't be friends with me anymore.  Not that they would not want to be my friends just because I didn't get up there with them!  It's just that I realize I'm afraid that not being up there means that I don't really belong--and that hurts even more than the thought of losing a bout.  So, curiously, I also realized yesterday, I'm not really that bothered about not being first; I'm just bothered by the thought of not being one of the gang.  Indeed, I would almost rather never be first.  I've been first before (e.g. in my high school graduating class), and although it was fun being the one up there giving the speech, it sucked losing all of my friends.  Much better to be fifth and still have others to play with.

So does this mean that I am simply not ambitious enough to win a medal again?  I'm not sure anymore.  I hate losing, sure.  But I actually don't want to beat my friends--which they know and, because they do want to be first, most definitely take advantage of.  (My friend Ed says I'm too nice, and he's right.  He got two medals this weekend, too.)  Lisa Lane Brown has something about this in her program The Courage to Win.  About how athletes often find it hard to imagine beating the champions in their sport because it means losing their idols, the ones whom they measured themselves against.  But the status reversal is also hard on friendship.  What if, in fact, I was the one who kept coming home with medals after beating my friends?  I don't like that image very much.  I want us all to be up there together, all for one and one for all.  But instead, here I am, back on the ground.

I think I need a hug.

Comments

  1. Just to clarify - why must being first mean that one loses ones' friends?

    And FWIW, if we ever fence, DO fence your best to try and beat me! I won't take it personally - indeed, I'd be sad if you put on the brakes. We're only opponents on the strip!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's not a "must," it's a fear. Because some of my friendships have suffered in the past after someone changed status.

    But if we ever do end up in a bout against each other, don't worry! I'll give you the hardest bout I can!

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