Competitions tend to bring out the best and worst in one's character. We've all been there: the winners are announced, then those who didn't get called start bad-mouthing the contest, or worse, the winners. "This contest is rigged", "She shouldn't have won", "How did HE win?" begin to echo in the hallways, the bathrooms, at the tables, etc. So few people will genuinely congratulate the winners, feeling excited for them and their journey. This needs to stop. In my years of competing, I have lost some and won some. I started my karaoke journey in 2008, at a local restaurant, a scared girl in a scene she was not ready to step into. After that first step, I started singing every night, learning to get out of my shell. I entered my first karaoke contest, and placed 2nd at the qualifiers, which meant I did not go on the grand finals. It was the first of many losses I would face in the years to come. The second contest I entered, I worked hard every week for 10 weeks, and came out being named the winner. What an amazing feeling! I thought, 'My hard work paid off! This is amazing!'. Sadly, this elation was only felt for 5 minutes max, before I overheard other contestants grumbling about how I didn't deserve it. On what should have been a night of celebration turned into a night filled with tears and self-doubt. I woke up the next morning attempting to comfort myself and mend from those harmful words. I knew that I had worked hard getting my outfits and songs ready every week. I told myself that I would never allow others to EVER bring me down like that again. Fast forward to 2013. I entered the Karaoke World Championships for the first time. I put time and energy into my songs, and made sure everything was in order. I placed 1st at the local level, then 1st at West Regionals, securing my spot at Nationals. After 3 days of competition, I came in 2nd place. However, when they announced my name as second, the entire room went silent, as if to say "We don't agree!". A few contestants started getting loud, shouting that the contest was rigged, that the person who won wasn't even memorable, so on and so forth. As the chaos ensued, I turned to Kim Evans (2013 KWC USA Female Champion) and gave her the biggest hug, congratulating her on her win. I knew that my time would come eventually; it just wasn't at that time. I also didn't want her to feel that her win was taken away by hurtful words being spoken by other people. I'd been there. I wanted her to feel the support from a fellow contestant, a feeling that was denied me years previous. My time came the following year, when I was named the 2014 KWC USA Female Champion and represented our country in Sweden, taking home the Silver at Worlds. Losing doesn't mean that you don't have talent. It just means that it is someone else's time. In losing, we can learn to grow, as a person and a singer. Sure, it's devastating when you invest time and energy into preparing for the competition, only to walk away with "defeat". But just like getting back on that bike after falling 50 times, we keep trying until we can ride without crashing, without losing balance. Think of it this way: Just like you would not appreciate the taste of cool water sitting in front of your computer as much you would after running a marathon, without knowing the feeling of losing, you will never feel the thrill of winning than if you had lost before. Know that, in losing, you have a chance to learn and grow, and THAT is what is important. One day, that may be you on the winning side, and trust me, you DON'T want to hear people say you didn't deserve it. So congratulate the winners, celebrate with them, because at the end of the day, we are a family- a giant, diverse karaoke family.