Having held the interschool storytelling championship for the past three consecutive years, I was the star of my school. When it came to choosing the right candidate to participate in such competitions, I was always the first choice. Naturally, I was once again selected to represent my school in the approaching contest this year.
Upon hearing the fact that I was chosen again, my classmates and friends acknowledged unanimously that I would undoubtedly emerge as the champion again. Consequently, I became conceited. I was so complacent that I neglected the importance of practising for the contest.
"Cindy, would you like to come in front of the class to rehearse for the contest?" asked my teacher, a week before the contest was held.
"I'm sorry, teacher," I replied. "I'm having a sore throat."
That was what I would do, whenever my teacher requested me to practise in front of the class. I always found excuses to avoid doing so as I had the opinion that I was too good and therefore the practice was quite unnecessary. On one occasion, I even told her not to worry as I was well prepared for the contest. I only managed to glance briefly through the story a day before the day of the contest. As the best storyteller among the students of the local secondary schools, I was too vain to practice and expected everything to be fine.
The contest was arranged to take place in a community hall. On the day of the contest, the hall was packed. Apart from my school teachers and principal, many of my classmates and schoolmates were present as well. I was the eighth contestant. Those who spoke before me did extremely well. On seeing their captivating and outstanding performance, I began to lose confidence in myself. My palms perspired heavily and I felt nervous.
Soon, it was my turn to talk. While walking up the steps leading to the stage, I tripped up on the step and fell, drawing laughter from the audience. I was mortified and got up quickly to proceed to the microphone. When I was facing the crowd, I suffered from stage fright. My legs shivered and so did my voice. I spoke in an expressionless voice and even stuttered a few times as I had forgotten some parts of the story. On seeing my terrible performance, the judges shook their heads. The supporters from my school looked at me in disappointment. I had never been so embarrassed in my life. In the end, I walked off the stage with my eyes filled with tears.
When the results were announced after the contest, I did not win any prizes - not even a consolation prize. It was not surprising at all. I regretted underestimating my opponents. My vanity had cost me the championship and I was remorseful for being so vainglorious. I had learnt my lesson well and finally understood the meaning of the saying, 'pride goes before a fall'.