-Illustration by Mahjabeen Mankani/Dawn.com
-Illustration by Mahjabeen Mankani/Dawn.com

We all think we can win. Somehow. By buying a lottery ticket, entering a TV talent show, inventing a silly gadget, calling up a radio station with the correct answer, turning up to the premiere of George Clooney’s new film in the hope he might spot you and ask you back to his boat. We all think we’re in with a chance.

I was on holiday this week when a friend and I went to a spinning class. This is an exercise class where you sit on a bike – not a real bike but a bike without brakes and you exercise.

My friend is 62. I sat on the bike behind her. During the class, I turned to my left and all the people who were meant to be spinning were watching each other to see how fast everyone else was going.

When we came out my friend turned to me and said, “Did I do OK?”

Do OK? This is an exercise class at a holiday resort on a bike that can’t move. Even Bradley Wiggins couldn’t win on that.

Even if you had fallen off your bike, rolled across the room and ended up on the teacher’s face, you still would have done OK, because it is an exercise class that you chose to do on your own for your own benefit.

These days everything is a competition, everyone wants to win, and everyone thinks they can be better than the next man, even when there’s no prize.

It made me think, ‘Did I do OK?’ I actually felt a bit down, like I’d failed my GCSE math again because the fat man on the bike next to me was going so fast he was almost flying, his backside was nearly touching the ceiling and his arms were lifting the handlebars.

Does that make me a loser? Because I didn’t top it. But I don’t know the man and I’m never going to see him again.

Later on that evening, I saw the same man in the bar and he blanked me, I wondered if it was because I was going so slowly on my bike.

The next day I went to an Archery class. I had never done archery before in my life so I wasn’t going to be good but I didn’t envisage just how awful I would be. If I hadn’t been supervised someone would have been killed – my arrow went everywhere except the board.

A young girl of about 23 got up and consistently hit the bull’s eye. She reveled in her own brilliance. A totally confident, annoying, show off. Someone who had obviously been born confident, she was probably public speaking as she came out of the womb.

An older man in the class said, “I’m too scared to get up now, everyone else is so good”. The poor man then reverted to talking about the film star Susan Sarandon to divert away from the situation.

The other day I bumped into a friend of mine who I went to school with. She told me she has five children with 3 different surnames, has been married three times, changed her name twice, has always worked, and has no grey hair. I’m still Shazia Mirza, have got loads of grey hair, and moles appearing in unusual places. What have I achieved?

We all want to hit the jackpot in someway. Most of the time there is no prize, no medal, no award. Sometimes, you have to do things for yourself, for a laugh, for fun, for love. It may not win you friends, you may get blanked as you walk down the corridor, you might have a bright, red face and smell like a pig but you’ll know, in your mind, you are the King or Queen of the spinning world at the 10.30 class at your local gym.

Shazia’s new stand up comedy tour ‘Cukooland’ starts February 1st. For dates and tickets see: http://www.shazia-mirza.com


The author is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Updated Jan 19, 2013 12:52pm

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Comments (5) (Closed)

Jan 20, 2013 11:28am
A good observation and article !! we all want to achieve what others have or trying to achieve. we feel jealous when others do something which we feel we could have done better but still not doing so. sometime we blame our capabilities, sometimes our luck and sometimes both but forget or rather try to forget that the same thing is applicable to all of us. there is no end to desires but one must know his or her limitations as well as strengths. everyone of us can do a lot of things but each on of us is best at atleast one thing. it is there we should focus our all strength to achieve excellence in it. I think that when someone works to the level of his or her ability and achieve what he/she is capable of and accepts others achievement as per their own capabilities and luck then there is no jealousy, and you feel satisfied with your self.
Jan 20, 2013 05:12am
Wonderful piece. An eye opener for the 'congenital winner'. Life is about 'living' and not only 'winning'.
Black Widow
Jan 21, 2013 07:59am
I LOVE YOU Ma'am ! you r amazing ! May Allah bless you in both worlds ! excellent article .. im definitely forwarding it to a LOT of people i know have these meaningless tendencies....
Joe highlander
Jan 19, 2013 01:11pm
Excelent description of issues caused by Ego.
akhter husain
Jan 20, 2013 02:18pm
As long as desire to win exists,hope exists and hope is life.Live it like that without being perturbbed.