Monday, November 14, 2022

A Word of Encouragement

During this past national convention, I had the incredible opportunity to compete at the national level for prepared public speaking. I have been competing in this contest ever since I started FFA in the eighth grade. I always had one goal in mind; to speak on stage at nationals. Each year, the top four individuals for prepared public speaking at the national level compete on stage in front of an audience. This year, for my last speech, I placed fourth overall in the nation. I accomplished my goal and will always cherish the memory. However, it was the lessons that I learned through competing in the contest that I will take with me wherever I go in life. Over the course of the contest, I learned two vital lessons that I now want to share to help encourage others. 

  1. You can accomplish anything you want to, as long as you put the work into it. Success takes grit. The times that you want to give up on your dream are the times that matter the most. Everyone has mountain top experiences, but we grow the most in the valleys. I had to struggle in order to make it on that stage. What most people saw was my name on the screen for the awards ceremony, but what they didn’t see were the countless hours behind the scenes that I had put into crafting my speech and reciting it until it was the last thing I wanted to do. If you stay consistent in your work ethic despite obstacles, you can reach any goal you have set for yourself.

  2. Never tell yourself you can’t do something. The weekend before nationals, I told my coach that I did not expect myself to even advance to semi-finals. I had watched the national finals, and I did not speak like the people that made it that far. I did not believe that I had what it took to make it as far as I wanted to, even though I had put the work into it. My coach had to quite literally knock some sense into my head. I was prepared, but for some reason I doubted myself. I told myself that I didn’t belong on that stage, but after competing at that level, I now understand something that I didn’t before. I don’t speak like other people because I speak like me. We are all different and have something unique to share, so never tell yourself you aren’t good enough to do something. 

These lessons will always be important to me. I will never forget the experience and I am proud that I learned something along the way. If you put the work into your goal and bring the best that you uniquely can to the table, you just might be surprised how far you’ll go. 

                                                                                                        - Jaden Maze

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