Navigating Personalities in Competition

It might your first competition, it might be your 100th. Maybe you’re a seasoned athlete in a new sport. Whatever your competitive status is, every time you enter a competition you have just displayed an act of bravery, and you should hold your head up high for that.

Be proud.

Now. Because competition is such a personal thing for everyone, you’re going to run into a lot of emotions, your own and those of other people.

Before the competition even begins, you’re going to hear and read a lot of things about the “right” way to be at a competition. You’ll see everything from “the only reason to enter is to win” and “being overly competitive isn’t nice/attractive.” The last one is particularly prominent for women. You know what? Fuck all that noise. Whatever reason you have for putting it all out on the line is legitimate. Either way, you have to face down some fears, and whatever motivation takes you through that, hold onto it, feed it.

Then there are the people when you get to the competition.

In my experience, these personalities range from the outright cold and distant, through the emotional robot, to the overly social butterfly. Depending on your personality, you’re going to handle stress and nerves different. Personally, I’m more of the happy robot. I’ll walk around with a smile, but generally be pretty closed off and distant. I find that’s the best way to center my mind and focus on what’s coming up without getting too amped.

Obviously this is the emotions scale.
From black widow to robots to rainbows and birds.

The hard part is if you’re on one of the extremes. If you need to put on your angry game face to really sharped your mind, it’s going to rub some people the wrong way. Well, fuck ‘em. They see your expression, and like the red hourglass on a black widow, they should know that means stay away.

If you’re the extroverted type that needs connection to feel at ease and focused, you’re also going to rub some people the wrong way. Your best bet is to either make sure you have a teammate with the same personality profile, a friend, or your coach ready for your onslaught of energetic conversation. It’s only going to stress you out more if you try to buddy up to someone on the other end of the spectrum and they end up telling you off.

So what exactly am I trying to say?

I’m saying there is a lot more you’re going to have to navigate in competition than just making your attempts or giving it your all. Sometimes these interpersonal relation issues aren’t considered and can throw you off your game. For instance, early on I felt it was “nice of me” to converse with the overly chatty types. Now I either say, “not right now, please” or just move myself away.

Figure out what works for you and don’t compromise on it.