House of competition

The news is so depressing these days. To avoid watching the BBC at 6 o’clock I have been turning over to watch Richard Osman’s House of Games. It’s a funny programme in which four contestants ‘compete’ to win naff prizes by answering inventive and amusing questions. It is supposed to be a light hearted show yet what amuses me most is to watch how the contestants really want to win. They can’t help themselves. A sense of smug elation goes to the winner while the losers, while they don’t try to show it, are crestfallen. 

Most of the contestants are from sports or the performing arts and are clearly over achievers. What also amuses me is that I can see myself in them. I try not to answer the questions out loud but the urge to get it right and beat the challenge is overwhelming. I do describe myself as a reluctant over achiever and at times it’s a blessing while at others it can be a curse.

Winning is not always the aim. 

If you have been a reader of my blog for some time you will know that I have been trying to learn foreign languages using Duolingo. I am learning Dutch and Spanish predominantly though with smatterings of other languages and am on a 1737 day streak. 

Duolingo is an online tool and one of the ways that it keeps you engaged is by putting you in leagues. They are too complicated to work out but you are ranked against fifty or so of your fellow budding linguists by how many points you score by completing lessons. Each week you can be promoted to the next league or demoted. I have managed to get into the Diamond league which is the highest there is.

I have found myself up against others who are putting in a lot of effort and am languishing at the bottom. I am torn between putting in more effort to keep up with them or going at my own pace with the risk of falling back.

I remind myself that I use the tool to learn languages not to compete against others. Sometimes it is good to win but at others it is better to just plod along. Remember, the tortoise wins in the end. 

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