I’m not the kind of person who wins things. I think I won a raffle once when I was a kid for this giant Easter egg cake. My Dad and I wrote a simple melody on the piano when I was five, and I won a trophy for that.
But as the years wore on, I became more and more disheartened by things you could win. My sister and I both entered a poetry contest in junior high and her poem won. She was published in a collection and got to attend a book signing. I was happy for her, but also crushed.
I’ve never won a writing contest of any kind. Not for magazine entries, not for short stories, not for plays. After a while, I stopped sending in things altogether.
But at the ChiSeries Windsor Best of the Best of the Best event last night, I was given a trophy for making up a story on the spot (and bribing some key deciders, though that was encouraged by the rules of the event. You could also get bonus points for tipping the bartender or wearing a funny hat. It was that kind of mischievous night.)
I’ve trained myself not to expect to win anything. Maybe some of you can relate. Don’t want it too much and it won’t hurt if you don’t get it. But last night reminded me that winning is more than being the best at something (or worst, depending on the category. The worst poetry award, for example). It’s about showing up. About taking risks and learning from past experience.
And showing up is something that the arts community needs. It needs people to show up and show their support for what artists are doing. It needs artists to show up and risk being honest and vulnerable with their work. It needs a lot of people to show up to build off of past events and create a space for artists.
That’s how we all win as the arts community. With that in mind, I’ve decided to make more of an effort in the new year to show up at arts events. Not every single one, because that would lead to serious burnout. But more of them. And if I can’t be there, at least spread the word.
I mean, if I hadn’t gone to the event last night, I wouldn’t have met the people I did, I wouldn’t have gotten up on stage and read a story I made up. I wouldn’t have taken home a trophy that the organizers put time and care into making. It took energy to get there, but once I was there, it was so worth it.
Showing up means we can all win, together.
Do you have an experience winning or not winning something? What do you think “showing up” means in the arts community?
**the featured photo for this post was taken by Christian Laforet
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