I’ve always liked contests. The rush you get from putting your name in a hat and waiting ever so impatiently for your name to be called. I remember one day when I was in middle school I cut out all the giveaway forms from my J-14 magazine and glued them to index cards for my mother to mail. I cut out tons of them and filled out each line. I remember getting excited when gimmicky fake car keys came in the mail, and I’d ask my parents if we could see if we won a new car.
I loved entering raffles and holding onto my ticket with great expectations. I remember in elementary school at our fall festival I played the moonwalk game (is that just a southern game?) and won a 2-liter of orange soda. I was pretty darn proud of that orange soda. Last summer my friend Julia found a dollar on the street so we bought a lottery ticket. We lost, but it was still fun to imagine our dollar turning into a million. Or just $2. Last summer I also entered all sorts of Broadway contests that I never won (but my friends did, so it all worked out).
I think I love contests so much not because of the prize, but because of the hope, the thrill. Waiting is not a chore with contests; it’s a gift. The time between entering a contest and when the announce the winners is a great time. The thing is, even if I win, I’m a bit disappointed that it’s all over. There’s no more guessing, there’s no more hoping. It’s like climbing to the top of a mountain – once you’re there, going back down seems pointless (to me anyways, obviously if you love hiking it’s probably still fun). I lose this hope not just in contests, but in other areas in my life. When I finally meet up with someone. When I finally get the job I wanted. When I finally finish that class.
I love the thrill of the chase, but I always yearn for the next opportunity, the next big thing. I’m a doer, a never sit still-er. I will never be happy with waiting around. I will constantly enter contests and play the moonwalk game. Okay, I won’t play the moonwalk game, because I not entirely certain if that’s a thing anymore. I also won’t gamble because my roommates all say that I’d go millions in debt, to which I concur. But maybe I wasn’t meant to be content. Maybe there’s so much more for me out there. There’s more than a 2-liter of orange soda and some free earrings from Instagram (although I appreciate both). So I’ll continue the chase and enjoy the thrill, because maybe some people aren’t meant to stop.
When I was six or seven I went to summer care at the YWCA. I learned how to play mancala and swim to the bottom of the pool. I convinced myself the graveyard visible from the playground had a ghost who wore a hat (it was a nice hat). I made a friend named Greyson or Bailey or something and we both agreed we hated it.
So we came up with a plan to break the monotony – we would get sent home. We had to come up with a way that would get us sent home without getting us in trouble. We decided the easiest way was to pretend that we had peed our pants. So we did, and were sent to the office of the summer care manager lady. She was very nice to us and called our parents, who picked us up. I think Greyson (Bailey?) and I were able to do this trick one more time before they made us bring a change of clothes with us everyday. By that point we were a good bit through the summer and didn’t feel like fighting it anymore, so we threw in the towel and played another round of mancala.
Now I’m not telling you to pee your pants to get out of summer care, but just hear me out. Going home was the “dream” of my seven year old brain, and I fulfilled it twice, but let a change of clothes stop me from pursuing that “dream” further. That may sound silly, but a lot of us get so close to our dreams and stop short because of something little, something like a change of clothes. Your change of clothes might be money or time or motivation or stress or whatever. But let’s make it a goal to get out of that YWCA building and leave our change of clothes behind (but please wear clothes) so that we can fulfill our dreams – even if that dream is just to go home and drink a juice box.
*Just to be clear, I know I was a very naughty child, and I did tell my parents about this…a few months ago.
My fifth grade almost boyfriend sat next to me in the special nerd classes we went to twice a week. He was a whiz kid at math and science, I was slightly above average at language arts and history. He was sporty and I was dramatic. We played basketball in gym class one day and I traveled with the ball, which I thought made us Troy and Gabriella.
One time on a day that we had nerd class, he leaned over to talk to me and sort of put his arm on my chair, which set my fifth grade heart aflutter. After class, his friend told me he liked me. In my mind I was elated – my crush of four years finally notices me! So logically I told his friend that I didn’t like him and that he was gross. I passed him on the track outside later. I don’t really remember our friendship much after that.
Later on he dated a girl from the grade below us and then moved away. I asked if we could be pen pals and wrote him a note confessing my crush, but he never replied. I even messaged him on Facebook quite a few years ago on Facebook. Yes, I know that’s creepy.
I remember clearly that when my fifth grade almost boyfriend’s friend told me he liked me I was scared it was a trick. How could someone who I’d dreamed about for years finally be real, be interested? I don’t think I wanted reality. I just wanted a boy to pine after. I wanted to be able to imagine fantastical situations instead of actually experiencing a possibly disappointing reality.
Even now I often prefer fantasy to reality – who needs practicality? But I’m not in fifth grade anymore, and imaginations aren’t enough. I’m going to live life, no matter how boring or scary it gets. So here goes nothing:
Dear Fifth Grade Almost Boyfriend,
I like you.
Fifth Grade Celina (who had really bad bangs and Harry Potter glasses)
At lunchtime one day in fourth grade (maybe third), I was asked/made to join a singing competition. The competitors were myself and a girl whom my mother approved of because the girl complimented her hair. The judge was my bully/friend, the girl who I sat with at lunch sometimes when my actual friends had a different lunchtime.
Anyways, the song that was decided upon was called Redneck Woman or something. I had never heard it, preferring Britney Spears and NSYNC. Needless to say, I did not win. I did not have to country grit the judge was looking for. So I can’t put “Elementary Country Song Lunchtime Winner” on my resume. But I can still sing you 3 lines from the song.
This wasn’t my first brush with rejection, and it definitely wasn’t my last. Losing a singing competition to the girl who compliments your mother’s hair is a bit upsetting, but nonetheless, I shouldered on. I went on to audition for solo after solo, role after role, to end up with what could be considered disappointing results: one solo in all of middle school chorus, none in high school, and one lead in a musical throughout my whole career.
Maybe this competition set the tone for my singing career. But I think that losing a redneck song competition helped me deal with rejection and continue to try. So thank you to the little 4th grade redhead who called me names and queened me the lunchtime lyric loser; you helped me lose with grace.
And anyways, she got engaged to a boy with ramen noodle hair, so who’s really the loser here?