Too important to win, too important to lose


I recently had a thought about [a gambling-related activity with which I thought I could make money]. I guess I can make money with it in the long-term, but I have a problem with the amount of time I spend on it, and I have a problem with what it does to my mind. If I end an hour with more money than what I started with, I am ecstatic; if I end up with less money, I am not so much unhappy, but let’s just say a general sense of happiness and well-being is completely absent.

After drawing a comparison between that and anything that requires creativity – can be a poem or an article for a web page, I mumbled in the direction of the refrigerator: “It is too important.”

To end an hour’s activity with a profit is simply too important. I follow my strategy and go through the steps with the thought in the back of mind that I just have to make 1000% (that’s right, one thousand percent) profit within four to six weeks then everything is hunky-dory and I can go on vacation. Then after an hour I walk back to the kitchen with less money in my account, disappointed, a little angry, and increasingly uncertain. “Will it work?” I’ll mutter to myself.

I put everything on the table. I risk my health, my happiness and well-being, a trip to my own country to see my family, my hope, my … faith – on the outcome of an hour’s activities that are supposed to make money.

This piece is starting to look like a confession, so let me make it clear: I do not gamble – not with cents, and not with dollars. I carefully work things out. I go in for profit, not for entertainment.

Nevertheless, to win is too important. Losing also weighs too heavy on my mind. Can the situation be saved? Or should I steer clear of anything where I win or lose because in both cases my blood pressure threatens to go through the roof?

Then again, everything that raises my blood pressure? What is left? Reading? Definitely out! I get all worked up and discuss everything with myself out loud. Movies, TV? Same story. Going on vacation to see my family? Problematic – there’s the stress of saying goodbye. Teaching English? There’s the noise, and the insolence of some of the kids … oh my goodness! Is this check mate?


In Korea, I had the insight that I hate to lose, because I expect to win. What inspired this insight was the severe distress I used to suffer when I lost an arcade game like Daytona USA or Soul Edge against someone. A similar thing rears its head nowadays with games on my computer like Pacman, Tetris, and FreeCell.

Why is it so important for me to win? It certainly confirms that I was right about something, but why is it so important to be right?

Is the problem an exaggerated sense of self-worth? Do I constantly need confirmation of my value as a person because uncertainty about it lurks just beneath the surface?

Am I doomed to be forever tossed between an exaggerated self-esteem, an insatiable need for confirmation of my value as a person (as manifested in the need to be right), and looming uncertainty about my own value and the accompanying anxiety, while existing in a reality in which everyone sometimes wins and sometimes loses, where everyone is sometimes right and sometimes wrong?