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Challenge your most ferocious rival

I’ve had a relentless rival my whole life. Always one step ahead in my goals, no matter what I achieved. Always trying to outdo me. 

It began when we were two years old. One afternoon, she started dancing in front of the TV.

I mean, right in front of TV. Get out of the way, bitch. She danced in front of the Johnny O’Keefe show. Bandstand. Even commercials, when they had music backgrounds. 

So, of course, she was the reason we got to start ballet classes when we were four. I can still see her earnest little face trying to lift her leg higher, point her foot harder, hold her arms more gracefully…than me.


When we started school, she found a whole new world of competitions. Athletic carnivals, weekly gym class, swimming days. She made me run in the 200m with the “big girls” when I was seven. The next year, she made me swim in the Balmoral Club team. 

She knew that I was terrified of the seaweed wrapped around the bars of Balmoral Baths and the unknowable “stuff” lurking in the water beneath me. 

But I showed her. I swam from one side of the baths to the other every Tuesday morning before school for years. And I began to beat her. 

But, don’t think the story ends here, with one triumph. Whenever I beat her, she upped her game. As I got older, her rivalry became more ardent. 

When I discovered sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, she even competed with me at that. Damn, she got us into a lot of trouble. When I grew up, she became more grown up. We became writers. I’d write something that got applause. And she’d write something better.


First marathon: Sydney Dance Company invited me to run in the City to Surf this year.

From time to time, I’d read what she wrote a month ago and get a shiver. I could never write like that. 

When we discovered open dance classes - and dance other than ballet – she had a moment (or two) of being truly humbled. Yay. We both sucked at jazz, lyrical, JFH and hop hop. But she was determined to win. Not against the other people in class. Me. I’d fallen in love with all of these new dance forms and she was NOT going to let me gain the upper hand. In anything. Ever. 

So, we started doing lots of classes. She’d practise jazz turns on the wood floors in the kitchen at home. So I’d practise body rolls in front of the bathroom mirror. She’d drill hip hop grooves in the checkout aisle at Coles. So I’d drill cartwheels in the park behind the Coast Walk. I started running. So she started running more. It has been like that for years and years.

Today, I had a great day. Both my ballet teacher and one of my hop hop teachers gave me a pat on the back. Now my lifelong rival is firing on the octane fuel of ambition. 

She is who I was yesterday. And she wants to be better than me tomorrow. You’re on, rival.