Thursday, October 4, 2007
Winning, Losing, Playing The Game
I am, in general, mild mannered, even meek. I say this with the hesitation that comes from an awareness that self-awareness is limited, self-deception unceasing, and judgment difficult. But let's assume I'm correct in my self-assessment.
It doesn't really matter: I mention it only to preface the disclosure that I also have a nasty competitive streak. Which, I assume, I share with about 100 percent of the human population.
An example. In the first year of law school you are expected to learn a system of citation called the Bluebook (Sitemeter tells me that 100 percent of our readers already know this -- let's pretend you don't). And my legal writing and research teacher decided to reinforce our knowledge of the Bluebook by playing a game called "Bluebook Jeopardy." Winners to be rewarded with small plastic toys. Losers to be rewarded with small plastic toys.
Without going into too much detail, let's just say that my team was up by two with a couple minutes left and I started strongly urging my teammates to help me run out the clock.
We did win.
This is what I felt afterward:
Triumph. Despite the fact that I knew this was a meaningless exercise, something deep inside some part of me told me this victory said something good about me and my team.
Embarrassment. I had been in law school for maybe a month at that point; I didn't really know those people. And now they all knew that I was the kind of person who would plot to win at Bluebook Jeopardy. I also just kind of thought it was funny -- me there, waving my arms around and yelling at my teammates.
And then another pleasure, distinct from winning. The pleasure of not being mild-mannered, the pleasure of locating, again, a part of my personality that feels foreign to the day-to-day world of compromise and being nice, the pleasure of the contrast. It's not Clark Kent and Superman or anything, but it's nice sometimes to feel foreign to yourself.