How important is winning? To some, nothing matters except the win, the ability to rise victorious above your friends, peers, or competitors. An alternate with a strong following is that all that matters is that you do your best. What happens then if your best is not good enough? What if, for one reason or another, you give 90% of your best? Does that change if it is 75%? 50%?
Trivia has never been strength of mine. I know plenty of useless information, but only rarely does it come in handy during a trivia game. Generally if I am invited to a trivia team it is as “eye candy” or for my personality between rounds. I do what I can but am often quite baffled by most of the questions. Recently I started going to a local trivia night where I am even more hopeless than useful. However, the topics were far more entertaining than usual – rounds such as determining which movie titles were Steven Segal movies or made up. The first week there, we took second to last place, barely beating a team of one who had missed the first round. Some members of our team were quite proud of not being last. Yay us.
This week was different. We managed to stay in the middle of the pack for the night and actually seemed to have a chance to do well. Our team barely knew each other, so we got to chatting during a break in the game. Suddenly (to us) the event was over. We had completely missed the last round. Also the final standings, though I suspect that we were near, if not actually, last.
On an objective scale, we did terribly. Many would term it giving up, or sloppy playing at the very least. Our focus has slipped in the last couple rounds as we had missed some questions due to talking amongst ourselves. In my book, however, it was a success. These people went from mostly strangers to people that I would like to spend more time with and get to know better. You can bet that we will be back at this event in the coming weeks, with a questionable outlook on our standings. Most importantly, we had fun. One of the more fun nights I’ve had with trivia. When you don’t care where you end up in the standings, the pressure subsides. Sometimes this helps you remember the answers easier, other times it helps you laugh off questions you are clueless in.
It is an outlook on games that I had once thought was normal, but I am coming to realize is less common. I do not always play games to win. I play to have fun. Part of this I suppose is a survival technique – I am not always the most skilled at many competitive activities. I have realized that letting go of the desire to do something that I cannot frees me to enjoy what I can do. One example that comes to mind is bowling. I am terrible at bowling. I unconsciously turn my wrist at the end and it goes straight into the gutter. Everyone that I bowl seems determined to correct this flaw and tell me that “all I have to do” is stop twisting. Like I never thought of that myself! Now when I play games I try to stop it and am very slowly making progress, but for the most part just have fun. I dance to the music while ball chugs along down the gutter. I cheer on my fellow players who have talent. As long as I am left to my process, I can enjoy the game. If every round is finished with everyone telling me the same bit of advice I have heard for years, I just get frustrated at my slow progress. So I tell my friends and family to just let me enjoy my creative gutter balls. One of the best rounds I have ever played involved my friends and I finding creative ways to toss the ball down the lane – spinning in circles, setting up obstacles, doing the granny bowl. Surprisingly we all did really well with our non-dominant hand. People hardly paid any attention to the score, but there was more laughter and enjoyment than we had experienced in any serious game.
Go try something new. Or handicap yourself while playing something that you are good at. Ignore the scoreboard and enjoy the game you are playing. When you can enjoy a game regardless of the outcome, that is when you are having a true experience with friends.