The sore loser and the comfort zone

Yes, I am a sore loser.

Just ask my best friend (and maid of honor at my wedding). If she says she can do something, I’ll push myself outside my comfort zone to keep up with her.

Like the time we were standing in front of a 65-foot rock climbing wall.

Me: “I’m gonna go halfway up.”

Vicki: “I’m gonna go to the top.”

Me: “Like I said, I’m gonna go to the top.

And we both did.

I hate to lose.

If I do, outwardly, I’ll smile and shake hands and say “good game” all day long.

But internally…

I could have done better, I tell myself. Or worse, I make excuses. This isn’t fair. I don’t know what the judges were looking for. 

But excuses don’t change anything, and they make it impossible to improve.

Like when I attended a competition awards dinner for layout design.

In past years, I’ve almost always been nominated to multiple categories, and often landed a first place or two.

But this year, I got only one category (infographics), and I landed a second place.

(And I was also part of a staff-won first place for a series in the racial issues category.)


“What are the judges looking for? What makes them choose this design over that one? How do they decide what qualifies as ‘better’?”

I wanted more nominations. I wanted more recognition. I wanted to win.

I hate to lose.

(I hate to lose to my best friend, never mind to strangers.)

But judged competitions are just like any other endeavor in life, even with something as little as “likes” on Instagram, or sales at an art show.

“What is my target demographic looking for? What makes them choose this other artist over me? How do they decide what illustration qualifies as ‘better’?”

I wish there was a simple answer. (If there is, I don’t know it!)

So I’ll just keep trying to figure it out, plugging away and trying new things, seeing what works (for judges, Instagrammers and art show attendees alike) and what doesn’t.

And just like when I’m up against Vicki, I gotta keep pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

It’s the only way to really improve.

Because slow progress is still progress.

Slow progress is still progress.

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