Competition is a funny thing, sometimes a good thing -- but a dangerous thing.
I'm a big football fan, and so I can appreciate the value of healthy competition. But, I also think that it's important to dig through what that means in my daily life.
Competition, when it means beating other people, gets me into trouble. And that happens in a lot of ways.
In running, it means tackling new distances and speeds before my body is really ready. I get impatient to be good enough to beat someone else, and I ask my body to do things that it isn't ready for yet. And then I get injured.
In writing, it means being very aware of what I'm not doing as a writer. It means seeing the success that other people encounter and discrediting my own value because it isn't the same. It means changing my voice, changing my purpose... all to win that competition.
In relationships, it means becoming discontent with the relationships I have and the love I enjoy and running after something that someone else has.
When your competition is with others, it can really get you into trouble. And yes, it can make you quite bitter -- because there's always going to be someone who is better than you. There is always going to be someone who has something that you don't. A skill, a talent, a relationship, an "in."
But competition changes when your competition becomes with yourself. When your goal is not to be better than someone else, but to simply be better than you were yesterday... that's something that grows you. When your goal is to run faster than yesterday, when your goal is to write better than yesterday, when your goal is to be closer to someone than you were yesterday.. those you can attain with peace and without trying to knock someone else down, without trying to change who you are, without trying to do more than you can do.
That kind of competition grows you. It makes you better. And it keeps you honest for why you wanted to compete in the first place.