I was walking down the hallway and a mix of excitement and nervousness took over me. There was only one day left until I got to participate in my first spelling bee. I was pretty good at spelling for a kid my age at the time, being 9-10 years old. I was never really exposed to a crowd, especially one that consisted of 300 + other students. I got called down to the library, and as I entered I saw a group of kids that I thought were high schoolers. I thought that I did not have a chance so I did not bother practicing in the small competition the students were having between themselves.
At first I was intimidated to speak in front of the group of older students. I sat and observed one of the two final contestants in the practice spelling bee. “ a-no-ma-to-poe-ia.” he repeated. “ a-n-o-m-a-t-o-p-o-e-i-a.” he said as I was trying to process his hand gestures while he was coughing up the letters one by one. I was confused but amused more than anything. That student won at the end, as I predicted.
I went back to lunch and attended the rest of my classes to then get home and worry about the Spelling Bee. I had time to study, and go over my two pages of words that could be expected to be in the competition the next day. I was overwhelmed at first by the amount of words but mostly by how complex they were to pronounce. I have not heard or seen one fourth of the words given to me in the two pages. My mom asked me words, so that I could then practice spelling without looking at the page. The words that were spelled incorrectly were marked so that I could study them afterwards, and hopefully remove the mark.
The sun was setting out my window. The day was going by fast and that caused me to worry. I could not seem to leave the room due to my engagement to win first place tommorow. I could smell the exotic spices from Mexico that my mom was using in the kitchen. Before I could realize what time it was dinner was already prepared. After taking a break from studying I asked my mom to ask me to spell some words.” An-tar-tic.” my mom tried. “ a, n, t, a, r, t, i, c.” I spelled out.
“ No, try again.” she said letting out a deep breath; wishing this was over. I did not understand why I got the word wrong at first until I asked for the sheet. I realized that my mom was mispronouncing words. I was relieved that it was not entirely my fault, but at the same time I had to find a new partner to review one last time before I could rest. I was in my tia’s house in a matter of minutes to see my cousin. It was the next day and my friends were spotted in the crowd gathered together laughing I was nervous and shaking.
My heart raced while we were waiting for the students to fill up the bleachers. I got more comfortable as I approached the mic. I went through a decent amount of rounds until I was upon the last 7 people. Each round was more and more tense each time. I remember wishing that a contestant would mess up their word. It was nerve wrecking not knowing what my next word would be.
I was up next with only five people left. I was unsure of the word that they threw at me so slowly I repeated it.I asked for the definition and it’s origin. Each time the spelling bee announcer talked I had time to think about how to spell the word. I sat back down in the other section of chairs where the contestants that misspelled words were disappointed. I learned a lot from my experience since. I have joined three other spelling bees since that time, and I have learned from past experience how to prepare myself to overcome my nervousness.