And the winner of the Division Contest is…

…me?! Me! Me.

This past fall I competed at the District 21 Table Topics Contest. In a few short weeks, I will be competing at the District 96 International Speech Contest. The minute after I won the Division Contest, I texted my mentor Joe and tell him he was right: he had long ago predicted I would end up at District. I still find it hard to sink in because I have always viewed speeches for the International needing to be the triple threat: inspirational, motivational, humorous. I feel like my speech does not mean any single one.

While I was driving home the other day, I started to think. Compared to the average age a Toastmaster, I am still a baby. I have no life experience. I grew up in a middle class immigrant family with extremely hard working parents that ensured I never worried if we continue to have a roof over our heads. I went to school, enjoyed first world problems, and here I am.

I have nothing. The only thing I have, are stories. Stories that are likely not ground-breaking, or anything new, but they are my stories. Stories that resonate with me, stories that I remember, stories that I can’t forget. They are my stories and maybe they will resonate with you.

I have been asked how I came up with the topic for this speech. The idea for this speech came about over three years ago, but I have struggled for years to find the right words to say. I spent the first year struggling to write a speech from it, then gave up and put the idea aside. This past winter, the speech started coming to me in a waterfall. I remember rushing over the laptop and typing like a madwoman to ensure I would not lose the words that were coming out. The words were unpolished. Raw. Unrefined. But the speech was also coming to me in a weird half-clarity. For the first time ever, the words were magically coming to me.

For those few individuals that have asked me what my speech was about, (and because I don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet), I have always provided this teaser:

I don’t have any children, and I’m not married. If I am ever fortunate enough to be so, this speech is the one thing I would want my daughter to learn and know about me.”

It is my story. If I could only share one last story with the audience, I would like it to be this one.

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