Saturday, April 21, 2012

Always A Bridesmaid . . . Again

Second place is the first loser. 

I saw that on a t-shirt once, and instantly disliked it.  Seems like a good reason to see a therapist, but a crummy way to sell clothes.  But after my fourth failure in two years to snag first place, I’m thinking of buying the shirt.
Maybe I set my hopes too high.  Everyone thinks they have a winning speech or they wouldn’t even attempt competition.  And one of those people is right.  But what about the rest of us?  The ‘also rans’?  The ‘close, but no cigars’?  Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, you know.  It’s hard to argue with that logic, especially when I feel like I got nailed in the head by a horseshoe again.
What is a judge looking for?  It’s so frustrating to try and then tweak and try some more in a speech contest, only to fall short again with no earthly idea why.  While the phenomenal organization I belong to is brilliant at providing evaluations for speakers in clubs—and even offering evaluation competitions—the place it matters most goes unaddressed.  No evaluations are ever given following a speech competition of any kind.  Participants are thanked for rounding out the gallery of players, but never told where they need to improve. The result is that we all go home second guessing ourselves.  “Maybe I didn’t move enough or speak loudly enough or have vocal variety or make eye contact.  Was my energy down? Did I run over time? Was the speech defective or just my delivery?  Maybe I should stick to Scrabble competitions.”
If we’re courageous, we’ll try again in six months or a year with a new battle plan and hope this one is a winner.
I know.  This sounds like sour grapes.  And I’m not even much of a wine drinker.  Second place or third place or making it through more than one contest are all honorable achievements.  I just don’t know how to do better when there’s no venue for constructive criticism.  I feel like we’re shooting in the dark—one of us will come closest to the bull’s-eye, but we’re never allowed to view our own target.
Yeah, today I feel like I may always be a bridesmaid, but someday I think my prince will come.  Maybe if I wear one of those t-shirts, he’ll recognize me. 

It couldn’t hurt.


  1. I thought you rocked yesterday, and I definitely would have placed you above the guy who won. You had great energy, great body language, great vocal variety. Your use of language was far superior to his. The only thing that he did differently was jump around more. Seriously, you do not need to jump around more on your speeches. I actually found that very distracting in his speech.

    You were great, and you can be very proud of your performance. The judging process is very subjective and will always remain a mystery. Don't let it get you down. You rock!

    1. I can't thank you enough for this encouraging comment, Liz. It does seem as though jumpers get rewarded more often. Sigh. Big big sigh. I wonder what the prophet on KOOl 94.5 would say . . . .

  2. I completely agree! His speech was very distracting and actually gave me a headache. You were robbed of first place because your speech was better on all points: vocal variety, word choice, props, gestures, and content.

    You will always win first place at Maverick!

    1. Well, who cares what the prophet would say - I like what YOU said! :) Honestly, I couldn't ask for a better group of friends than those we've found in Maverick's club. And you, my friend, are an absolute delight! Thank you for your wonderful, encouraging words!

  3. Dear Eula,
    I know we've all said it many times and that as many times as we say it you'll still feel like a bridesmaid - YOU WERE AWESOME! Your delivery was great! Your timing was perfect! You left the audience rolling! The rest of us LOVED your speech! Know without a doubt that you outgunned your opponents!
    So the judges scored the way that they did. Maybe one of them worked at Peet's Coffee? Maybe someone received terrible service at Starbucks? Maybe someone was swearing off of coffee and just jealous of the rest of the world for being able to get double espressos and mocha lattes much to their chagrin?
    Whatever the reason, we all felt you were robbed but as much as we disagreed with them, we unfortunately, can't change the outcome... And at the end of the day, isn't your (and our) opinion the ONLY one that matters?
    Maverick will still keep you and welcome each opportunity to hear you speak. So, chin up little buckaroo because this ain't a one pony rodeo and you aren't a rodeo clown!

    1. Oh, Aiko949 (is that you, Aimee??), I never thought of that before! Probably the judges had all recently switched to decaf, felt jittery, had horrid headaches, and wanted nothing better than to just knock me into next week for even reminding them of the awesome, addictive fragrance of Starbucks. It wasn't my fault at all - it was just the withdrawals clouding their minds! Seriously, that's the funniest response I've ever read - have you considered competing in the fall? I'll support you!!! Thanks so much for the laugh and the encouragement! I'll try to pull myself up by my boot straps, put on my big girl blue jeans, and get back up on that horse. Thanks, Pardner. ;)