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to enter a speech contest

Every single year I cried at the local Optimist poetry recital contest.

Every.

Single.

Year.

Except for the one year that I skipped it. I was in grade 5 I think and the teacher that will not be named had the thought, maybe you shouldn't have to do it that year. I'll circle back around to this.

It started in kindergarten, we got to say a poem as a group. I'm not sure which poem we memorized but we were adorable, all three of us. Adorable. No competition, just three toothless kids reciting a poem in chorus. I'm sure I was the loudest, my two classmates were much softer spoken than me, but we had power in numbers. And our teacher standing in front of us cueing us if we needed.

Then it happened in grade 1.

I got to the stage, my hands wringing, my body vibrating, my mouth dry. I think I got half the title out before I crumpled under the pressure of the audience staring at me. I couldn't get a word out through the sobs, I don't even know who it was that walked me o…

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