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My First Time I Never Expected This

On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, I attended the Division C International Speech and Table Topics contest. Normally, I'd happily spend the evening dedicated to my default - routine. However, a member of my club was a contestant in the speech contest, so I tagged along to support her.
At the event, the atmosphere felt much like my weekly Toastmasters club: lively, friendly, supportive, exciting. I saw several get up on stage in front of a cheerful crowd and put their skills, personalities and stories on full display. Whether I was watching the less experienced speakers get up there and bravely tackle their fears, or the very experienced showcase what hard work and practice will achieve, I was truly inspired.
At the end, the winners were announced. Even though formatted as a competition, this was truly an instance where it felt like every single person in the room was a winner, from the contestants who received top prizes, to those who won only learning experiences, the volunteers, and even those like me who had the privilege to attend.
As the event came to a close, I was left with a strong urge to soon partake in these contests. And why not? This was a perfect environment to practice. As one of the contestants responded when asked why people should participate in a contest, “…this is the perfect place to try it. Whether you deliver a strong speech or get up there and absolutely freeze, you will be widely applauded and encouraged.” Zero risk, total reward!
Bottom line, I could have spent my evening on routine, but I am glad I invested my evening expanding my awareness and my hope.

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