My parents were going through old elementary school trinkets the other day — letters for Mother's/Father's day, fun little school projects, that sort of thing — and I had the funniest flood of intrusive memories. I remembered this one game I used to play with myself at the start of every new grade: I'd sit down at my desk, open up my notebook, and write down "I was stupid last year. This year I'm going to be way smarter". It's kind of horrifying to think back on the deep competitive drive I had as a (literal!) child, but it does strike to the heart of something I've been thinking about lately: the woman in the mirror.
Competition is endless. So endless, in fact, that it can be totally numbing. I'll never be the best jiu jitsu athlete — why bother? I'll never be the richest — why build? It's the sort of toxic idea that makes you feel like you're drowning if you look at it for too long. But everytime I find myself tiptoeing towards that edge, the woman in the mirror winks at me as if to say "You're not getting out of this one. I'm your competition". There's just something so deeply wholesome about cultivating a rivalry with yourself! It's one of the few sorts of rivalries that build you up instead of tear you down...if I can't be better than who I was yesterday, then I know the woman in the mirror will be waiting for me at the end of the day with a smug look on her face. And it makes life fun knowing that I can't let her win.