iphone pic credit: Nicole Kaufman
On Saturday this past weekend I had the honour of being a ‘Judge’ for Listowel’s Annual Paddyfest Ambassador Competition. My first thought when I was asked was ‘Oh my goodness, I’m not worthy of judging these girls, but then a thought came to mind, that reminded me, not to let the lies we tell ourselves, let us miss out on opportunities to grow. Something I’m continually working on.
So off I went to Listowel, nervous but excited for what was in store. When I arrived I was greeted by the amazing Nicole Kaufman who has so much positivity and life to her it’s contagious. I quickly forgot my nerves. This girl can lead and leads so well and had this event so well organized! Next I met the beautiful Erika Riddel who has been crowned CNE Fair Ambassador, so I knew we had some expertise within our panel. I grin as I think of the next judge who walked in. This guy just makes me smile ! J Stevens with 94.5 fm. I quickly learned that behind his quick sarcastic wit and candour lies an extremely sweet and caring man who has fought his own lies we tell our selves. A new ‘brother from another mother’ I like to call him.
The three of us quickly became fast friends as each beautiful, talented, young lady came in for their private interviews with us. What quickly became apparent to us was how these young women encapsulated, courage, intelligence, grace and strength within such a vulnerable moment. Each with their own life story of successes and struggles. We so appreciated their stories of hardships, successes, and honesty and how it’s made them stronger, and what they could offer as the Paddyfest ambassador winner. As a mom it made me think of my own daughters and the thought of them putting themselves before a panel of judges. I wanted to lift each one of these girls up in their strengths and applaud them for their courageousness.
At the end of the show we chose our winner and all felt very strongly about our choice. What surprised me though, was how hard it was to be a judge. We all of course question ourselves and ask if we’ve made the right choice in different situations and as a mom of daughters I know that what could come out of this experience for these girls could stay with them. I took this role very seriously. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision having such incredible contestants to choose from but we felt strongly that this winner would best represent Listowel. She had over come bullying, a broken home, weight issues yet continues to glow with energy and confidence and encourages others as a community ‘cheerleader’ and volunteer. The song ‘What Doesn’t Kill you Makes you Stronger’ comes to mind when I think of these girls.
One thing I so wish I had shared with each of the girls afterwards is to always remember that ‘Her success, doesn’t equal your failure‘. We are all put here perfectly in our own way and all have something to give. It may not have been your moment to win but through experiences of second and third places let it only build perseverance within you to continue to grow and develop your character. We don’t all go from diapers to heels over night, we continually grow, hurt, experience, succeed, grow some more as we develop our true selves with this life we are given .
Being a judge for a competition I thought was going to be so cut and dry, but what this day taught me was so much more . We all struggle with insecurities and the lies we tell ourselves, yet we all continue to put ourselves out there in the world, either through new experiences, competitions, interviews, meeting new people and we all hope to be accepted. Acceptance comes from so much more than from others. It’s got to come from inside ourselves. Because from what I witnessed on Saturday was when you do accept who you are it really does shine from the inside out…like light. And people just want to surround themselves with your light!
Congratulations to all the girls! May your light continue to encourage and inspire others around you!