A couple of weeks ago, under the influence of a Mario Kart tournament and grilled food bribe, I went to a social outing hosted by a family from my church. Now, it’s early, but I have to stop and make a note right here.
I used to be a really competitive gamer.
Not in the screaming, sore loser sense, but in the obsessive, pride-is-hurt-when-I-lose sense.
I didn’t know the people at this social event well, nor did they really know me. You can be sure my pride was revving itself up, getting ready to “prove itself.” Unfortunately, I hadn’t played Mario Kart in a long time, a long enough time to make my car rusty and wheels deflated.
I fell flat on my face, or I would’ve if cars had faces. In all seriousness, I didn’t do too badly. I landed in scattered arrangements of 7th to 3rd place. I’ve been reflecting on what I was thinking while I was in that setting, and I see that I missed a few marks—both as a gamer and as a child of God.
I Didn’t Have Fun
The most dreaded three-letter “f word” for Christians: fun. Some might rejoice that I didn’t revel in worldly entertainment, but that’s an entirely different axe to grind. As a gamer, I didn’t enjoy myself. Focusing only on winning instead of simply being excited for the chance to play forced having fun into becoming a distant thought.
That’s what pride does. It’s not satisfied until it gets exactly what it wants. And that’s exactly what I gave myself to, so in retrospect, I’m not surprised that I didn’t have a good time. Even if I had gotten first place every time, I don’t think my desires would’ve been fulfilled. Pride always wants more, and more, and more. I was already too preoccupied by this nonsensical thirst for first place, so getting it would’ve fueled more anxiety to get first place again.
I failed as a gamer by forgetting the fun, and I see this rabbit hole as a place where far too many gamers go before their hobby crashes or goes south into extreme frustration. Pride grows out of control and inevitably sucks the joy out of gaming.
I Didn’t Pay Attention to the Moment
I need to clue you in on another detail before I continue.
At this point, I was practically a complete stranger to almost all of the people at the gathering.
I say practically because I’d been around them for close to a year, but I was approaching the finish line of a marathon regarding a strong case of social anxiety. I could’ve counted, on two hands, the all-time total amount of sentences I had spoken to my peers there. It was bad. But I was ready and committed to embracing my (probably) true nature as an extrovert.
However, as you might guess, the level-100 beast showed up once more; pride jumped in the way.
Instead of trying to speak up, the only thing I had on my mind was how to win. When I didn’t get my “well-deserved” first place, I was internally embarrassed, which took my mind further away from social interaction. I wasn’t staying in the moment. Everything in psyche was about me, and that fact siphoned more of my joy. It was a soul-sapping experience in every definition of the phrase.
Anyone who gets “stuck in their head” during social situations knows how frustrating this can be. It makes it impossible to make anything of a moment. You end up going away dejected, and the moment either fades into negative emotions or lingers on as an unshakeable, bad memory. It’s a lose-lose.
I Ended Up Disappointed
Above all, I was disappointed in myself and somewhat unrightfully, in the event. I went there expecting a good time, but I let my pride rear its ugly head and it brought my social fears along with it. Everything spiraled in the exact direction that I didn’t want it to.
Once more, this is how pride works. It sets up big expectations of yourself that aren’t grounded in reality. You either live in a constant state of delusion, or you take a tumbling fall. If I had gone with the intent to relax and enjoy the company of others, maybe things would’ve turned out differently. Better yet, if I had went with a heart that loves others before elevating itself, I know I would’ve been content no matter where I placed on the Mario Kart charts.
But I didn’t. It’s okay though. I’ll slot in another coin and try another time! In my future races, I’ll be sure to have God as my referee.