Last month, I entered around 1,750 competitions. That’s much higher than normal for me. The consequence of that is that I am looking at my inbox every three minutes to see if I’ve got any wins.

This is the restless anxiety that comes with comping. The underlying sense that a win could come at any moment, and by any one of multitude of ways.

anxarticle1I’ve been notified of wins by email, by phone call, by text, by post. I’ve heard of wins through Facebook updates, tweets or direct messages. A lot of the time there’s no message at all – the prize just arrives through your letter box. So, at any given point, any of these methods of communication could receive notification of a win. You have to check these, then. You have to, because if you don’t, then you could miss a win!

But what if the message doesn’t make its way to you? What if your email decides it is spam? Great. Now you’ve got to check your spam mailbox too. And your Facebook ‘other’ inbox. Even more anxiety.

It’s particularly worse at the beginning of the month. The last day of the month brings with it a spike in closing dates for competitions. There are easily four or five times as many competitions closing on the last day as on a normal day. The following few days leaves you in a cold sweat as you wonder if somewhere, in some promotion company’s office, your name has come out in that draw to win a set of e-clean sponges. Or perhaps that blogger has already picked you as the winner of a promo draft copy of a book you would not otherwise have read. But hasn’t announced it yet. THE ANXIETY!

It would be far less harrowing if you just never got emails unless you won. But you don’t. The downside of entering competitions is that you sign your inbox over to the devil. Maybe not the devil, but you do end up with a shedload of mail-outs. So, you’re waiting on a potential win, but in reality you’re fending your way through scores of red herrings. IT’S UNBEARABLE.

You second guess yourself. Oh no, you think. The odds are astronomically against you, not in your favour, you think. But then every competition has to have a winner – why shouldn’t it be me? Maybe they haven’t drawn a winner yet. Let’s see – it closed on Friday. They’re not back in the office until Monday and they’ve probably got stuff to do first thing. They’ll probably do it around two or three. It’s insane. You’re picturing people that you don’t know in a place you’ve never been doing something you’re not even sure of. What? It’s only me that does this? Oh.

Then you hear that sometimes people get prizes months and months after the event without even being told that they’ve won. Well that’s just outrageous. It once took nine months for me to receive nappy pants that I’d won from an Aldi competition. The babies were potty trained by then.

phoneNobody tells you about this when you start comping. People talk about the buzz that they get from their wee hobby, but they don’t tell you about the dark side. Every time someone says that they have not won anything in two years I want to grab them and scream “HOW DO YOU COPE??”

And that’s because it’s the wins that keep you going. Small wins give you a little buzz but, more than that, they give you the fuel to keep going. Ok, you think, I’ve won this set of rainbow stamps worth £6. That’s good. That means that the postman knows I still live here. It means that I can still win things. Now let’s win some good things.

Even a middle sized win doesn’t take away the feeling. In fact, I don’t think anything less than a massive lottery win would make me want to stop entering competitions. Mind you, I know that, immediately after receiving a huge cardboard lottery check for £20 mil, I’d be checking my phone to see if I’d won a £20 Amazon Voucher. It’s just what compers do.