SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
I’ve had reason to think lately about the idea of meeting challenges.
One of the biggest clichés there is – and believe me, I know clichés – is that winning isn’t everything. So when my daughter stood before a crowd last week, waiting to see if she might be declared this year’s Chain O’ Lakes Festival Queen, I thought how it would be better if she didn’t win. That would build character and teach her an important lesson, right?
I was thinking “I hope she wins! If she wins I’m going to buy us all the ice cream in Dairy Queen and throw a party for all her friends! Then I’m going to brag to everyone about how my daughter is the queen, thanks to the influence of her father, of course.”
She didn’t win.
The COL Festival has been around for so long that in the first parade, the horses weren’t for show – they were towing the floats. The Queen is a big part of that, but she doesn’t gain the position by talent or swimsuit competitions. (Considering how cold it was this time around, I’m sure they’re very happy not to have been showing off the newest swimsuit styles at this outdoor venue.)
It’s actually a penny per vote competition, which amounts to a fund raiser that helps defray the cost of putting on the festival. Each contestant gets two cans: One is kept at a local business, and the candidate takes the second can around, collecting money from relatives, friends, and hapless strangers cornered on the street. There were only four candidates this year, yet they collected over a thousand bucks, to give you an idea.
Near the end of the collection period I was told the business that took my daughter’s can stowed it in the back room for weeks, because their corporate headquarters don’t allow for this kind of community project. Why they couldn’t have contacted someone, so the can could be taken somewhere else, is beyond me; I drove there to ask, but they have a policy of not opening the door for any costumer who’s screaming and waving a baseball bat. Possibly I took the whole thing a bit too seriously.
Whether it would have made a difference, I don’t know – I think most of the money comes from the second can. In any case, my youngest became princess for two years in a row.
Now, I’m not speaking for her, but I suspect she wouldn’t have been bothered too much by that alone. Like me, she’s not terribly competitive, and doesn’t like to do the fund raising thing. But there’s a legacy problem: Her sister and her aunt (my sister) both became COL Festival Queens, and I think she wanted to make it a triple crown. So yes, there’s a certain amount of disappointment there.
And yet …
Well, I have mentioned that she’s a lot like me. We have similar personalities, like similar TV shows and music, we were both involved in theater and show choir, and are otherwise so much alike that she probably doesn’t like to think about it. Similarly, we’re both shy in most areas. Yes, I managed to get up on a high school stage and act badly, and she managed to hit the show choir risers and dance well, but there’s a large streak of phobia. Fear of public speaking? Check. Fear of new things? Check. Social anxieties? And how.
And yet she picked up that can two years running, went looking for votes, then stepped up on that stage along with a group of similarly fearless, goosebump covered ladies, and waited for the news.
I wouldn’t have done it. I’m terrified of trying to sell things, I hate to have to ask for help, and I’d have looked terrible in any of those dresses. I just never would have attempted it to begin with. I’d never know if I would win, because I’d have never tried.
So, there you go: Winning isn’t everything – trying is. Some of you will no doubt have to sit down and recover from the shock of such an idea.
Sure, it would be nice to write a column about how all my female relatives became queens. But the more I think about how much courage it takes for her to do these things to begin with, the more proud I am. Who cares if she’s a queen? She took a risk and met the challenge; she’s still my princess. She’s still my daughter.
And that takes courage.