I have turned over a new leaf. Given my attitude a hard look and found it wanting. Discovered that while “good enough” might be okay, “my very best” is a whole lot better. Yes, I have decided to become a try-hard ninja, at least when it comes to Words with Friends.
Here’s how it happened. When my old iPhone finally joined the choir eternal a few weeks ago, and I had to replace it, I also had to transfer over all the various apps that make my life worth living. You know the ones: 2048, Dots, Words with Friends…
And of course, technology being what it is, the transition wasn’t all lotus petals and chocolate bonbons. Words with Friends, in particular, decided to get all difficult and tetchy, with the result that I wound up erasing it and re-re-installing it. All fine and dandy, except that for reasons that still elude me, the game started treating me as though I’d never played before. As in, my previous rather dismal record was wiped clean.
At first I was annoyed, but then I realized that this could be an opportunity in disguise.
You see, up till a couple of weeks ago, I treated Words with Friends as a doddle in the park: if I could find a word that fit the board and got me a few points, good enough! In it went, and I considered my job done. Off to the next game!
But when I realized that I was starting fresh with a new scoreboard, something came over me. I started staring at the letters on my board, trying them in different permutations and combinations, calculating how many points I could scrounge out of 5 vowels, an X and a P. I stopped just accepting the first word that occurred to me, and started actually investing myself in the game.
My life as a slacker
This isn’t the first time in my life I decided to stop taking the easy way out, so it’s not an entirely new experience. Still, I’d forgotten how good it feels to really throw my all into an endeavour (even one as trivial as Words with Friends).
Here’s my confession: I have a tendency to coast, to accept less than my personal best. I tell myself it’s okay, that I’m saving my brainpower for more important things, but that’s just an excuse for laziness, isn’t it?
Back in high school, I was quite possibly the laziest student in my class. I took a certain amount of (completely unjustified) pride in my ability to coast through classes without doing much of anything. Studying? That was for losers. Why bother, when I could drag myself out of bed, stagger to an exam, write it in my sleep, and still pass the course?
The fact that I was getting 60s and 70s didn’t faze me—what mattered was that I was getting promoted from grade to grade. It wasn’t until my Grade 12 English teacher, Mrs. Bolton, inexplicably saw fit to give me the English award for that year that I smartened up, at least somewhat.
Somehow, being told that someone had detected something award-worthy in me prompted me to up my game. In Grade 13, my final year of high school, I suddenly morphed from slacker to try-hard: I threw myself into my school work, started writing up a storm, memorized great honking swaths of Shakespeare and Tennyson, immersed myself in literary theory, and at the end of Grade 13, came away with two more awards.
Just as having my Words with Friends app mysteriously reset itself offered me a chance to redeem my old, lazy ways, getting that first English award seemed to ignite something in me.
It’s occurred to me recently that maybe my tendency to coast is only partly due to the fact that I am bone-lazy. Maybe it’s also partly due to a secret belief that if I were to give it my all and still fail, I’d reveal myself as not half as intelligent as people think I am. Which is ridiculous, of course. Smart people fail all the time.
I hadn’t thought of it that way before. This may take some adjustment.
Meanwhile, meet the new try-hard ninja on Words with Friends: I am kicking ass and taking names, and it feels damn good.