I recently read this article which talks about how as women we are conditioned to apologise often. We apologise for ourselves, our lifestyles, our bodies and our choices, even when no apology is needed.
Being competitive is something that women needlessly apologise for. A competitive edge is not considered to be feminine- it’s associated with being too aggressive, ambitious and demanding. Men rarely apologise for being competitive, but it somehow feels wrong as a woman to admit the desire to win.
I often hold myself back for fear of being perceived as competitive. Lane swimming etiquette says that slower swimmers should let faster swimmers pass if they are being tapped on the toes. However, at my club swimming session I’ll often hold back and avoid overtaking as I worry I’ll be seen as rude or pushy. The same goes for cycling, I’ll stay at the back of the group as I feel I’m perceived as a show-off if I push forward to the front.
At Cycle Rhythm, the studio environment is set up to foster healthy competition. Stats are displayed on a screen at the front of the room, ranking each rider based on power output. Men seem to embrace this concept from the outset. However, I often hear female members initially claiming they are not competitive, then being sucked in by the leaderboard wanting to overtake their rivals.
Women play just as hard as men. We’re just as competitive- Sheryl Swoopes
A clubmate described me as being competitive last summer when we were training for the Cotswold 113. I was taken aback and immediately felt the need to justify myself. I’d never considered myself to be competitive, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised it is OK to want to win. The desire for success is an innate human trait regardless of whether we are male or female. It’s something I want to celebrate and stop apologising for.
I am a competitive person and it’s not something to be ashamed of. I’m competitive in triathlon, my blog, my career and my life. A little healthy competition gives me the drive to push myself and achieve my goals. It helps me to put in my best effort and perform better. Training alongside someone who is slightly faster than me spurs me on to catch them. Of course, I’ll never win a triathlon, but I can always compete with myself to improve on my last performance.
I recently came 1st lady in a 25 mile Time Trial organised by my club. To be fair, there was only one other female taking part, but regardless I felt that ambition to win.
You can’t always be the strongest or most talented or most gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive- Pat Summitt
We are often told that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ but in fact I think it can be useful to compare our results to our peers in order to bolster the desire to achieve.
Being competitive doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see others succeed. I’m hugely supportive of my friends, family, colleagues and clubmates- I love to see them achieve their goals and reach their potential. I’m not threatened by their success- they are not my rivals, but my inspiration.
What are your thoughts on being competitive as a woman?