It was a night I will never forget. It was an event I'll live to remember. It was the annual NTU (Nanyang Technological University) - NIE (Nanyang Institute of Education) Speech Contest. It was organised by Toastmasters International, a club within the school. I wouldn't have featured if not for a brother of mine, that pointed my attention to the Toastmasters booth while they were advertising one sunny afternoon. I registered and with my confidence of public speaking, I had immediately started declaring myself as the winner.
I was called up for the preliminaries and I spoke on vision, a favorite topic of mine; one I was confident could win me anything, any day. Alas, I fumbled! I shot past time. I was so engrossed in passing the message across with the passion I bore for it. While I did that, I didnt know I had shut passed time. For once, I knew I had messed up. I was between the bull and the horn and wasnt sure if I would be given a place in the finals. I panicked! Some days later, I just saw in my email that I had been alloted a place in the finals and I was critically warned about my timing for the finals.
"Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is everything" - Vince Lombardi
I was very anxious for the finals. I had this believe within me; "Samuel, for you to have qualified for the finals, you are sure wining this contest". I was that confident. A few topics crossed my mind to speak on. I asked one of my favorite student what She would advice I speak on, She gave her ideas but sooner than I could imagine, I changed my mind. This time I was determined to speak on a topic "Selfishness and Empathy; the problem of our world". I had started rehearsing it. When I am on my way home, in the bus, I was always practicing and picking points to talk on and I was confident I was going to speak on it. Five days to the competition, I felt my mind would not let me speak on "Selfishness and Empathy again" but now on something related to my favorite topic "who are you and where are you going?" - a topic I had once blogged on earlier in the year.
I decided to further my passion for my new found topic by reading my blog and then gathering a few quotes from my favorite authors and speakers. All these done; the d-day came and I was the second speaker for the night. I had thought it was going to be pretty easy and no one would be my match until I got there that night. A young Singaporean, came up first to speak and He wowed everyone. By the time He had finished speaking, the audience still hadn't recovered from his talk. It was as if He has infused everyone with a laughing gas. We all laughed our hearts out. As I laughed, deep down within me, I knew I was in trouble that night. I had started writing myself off. Now, it came the time for me to speak.
“The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better” - Babara Pletcher
I got on stage and was ready to speak. I had rehearsed the topic with my friend earlier on phone as well as with my boss in the office but to my amazement, I didnt go the way I had rehearsed. It was a complete unique experience. I did my best for the night and by the time I finished, the Hall was silent and got me into this dichotomy of whether it was that they absorbed my message or they were disappointed by it. Deep down, I said within me, "Samuel, you have done your best!" A few other speakers spoke after me but I couldnt help but notice an Indian lady who was very eloquent as well. She took everyone out with her speech and posed another threat to my winning attitude that night just like the first speaker.
The time came for the prize giving and I had settled in my mind that at least I would get a third prize out of that hall that day. To my utmost surprise the 2nd runner up was called, it was non of the two outstanding speakers but a young Indonesian-Singaporean (very eloquent as well). Thereafter the young Indian lady was pronounced the 1st runner up. The special guest of the occasion then took the Microphone and said "...And the winner is "Who are you and where are you going?". I felt like screaming. I wanted tears to roll down my chicks but it didnt. I couldnt believe it! What a night! A dream come through.
Dear reader, perhaps you are like me on that night. You have by the situations and circumstances happening around you, started calculating your failure or planning how you will bear the shame of ridicule; I have a good news for you today; IT IS NOT OVER YET. You are still the winner. Dont you let that winner instinct within you be trampled upon by intimidation. No one dares stand against you but yourself. You can do it, if only you will give your best. Refuse to condone intimidation; refuse to be infused with fear and trembling; refuse to put on the garment of mediocrity in the face of adversity. Fear is not an option when the battle is not yet over. You can make it. You are the winner!
- Le dynamique professeur