I've entered speech contests before. There is no greater feeling than winning. It's a euphoric high that goes on forever. A moment of validation that YES you are on the right track, living your dream, and inspiring the masses. I've also lost - and those moments are a mixture of emotions ranging from disappointment, hurt, rejection, maybe self doubt... embarrassment... just an over all unpleasant feeling. And of course, there is the occasional feeling of being "robbed" by bad judging, popularity voting or an unfortunate speaking order.
As someone who organises speech competitions I can look into the room at the end of the night and identify all of these emotions. The winners are flying high - elated and ecstatic. There are always those who didn't win and yet are feeling super pumped to have done an amazing job, had the chance to share their voice or maybe gotten over their fears and conquered the stage. And then of course, there are those who are hurting. My heart goes out to those people. Sometimes they leave right away. Sometimes they openly question if they should even be speaking. Sometimes they don't even talk to me again after - as though I am now intimately connected to that negative experience.
I want to share this one thought - something that I've really refined over the years of speaking: Take every opportunity to speak about the most important, most vulnerable, most intimate part of who you are. Share what you feel the world needs to hear the most so that even if you lose the prize, you've won by making that impact.
I take every opportunity to talk about human connection, the homeless, people who are hurting and invisible... I talk about self acceptance and self love and dealing with my own internal struggles. And at the of the day no matter what the score card says, I always feel like I won.