I wish I could promise you that the fair is going to work out the way you want. I wish I could tell you that you'll have the success you worked for. I wish I could tell you that you'll be recognized for your hard work, your kindness, your dedication, your grit. I wish I could tell you that others who didn't work as hard won't stand ahead of you in the ring, won't get the bigger trophy or the prettier ribbon.
Now, go back and read that again, except this time, instead of "the fair," substitute "your life."
You see, the 4-H fair isn't just about your project. It's about learning to deal what life throws at you, with failure and success and everything in between. It's about doing your best and allowing that to be the reward you seek. It's about learning that you can only control your actions, your decisions, and your happiness.
It's your first lesson in learning to let the things out of your control simply be.
It's practice for what comes next in career, school, and life.
I can promise you this: every Extension staff member planning your fair has done their best to create a learning environment that is fair. That doesn't mean, others won't find ways to work the system. It does mean that to the best we could, your safety and success was our guiding directive.
So, after the fair, think about what you could have done differently and make a plan to do it. Think about the things that were out of your control and move past it. And, if you won, think about how you give back to others who could learn from your talent and success.
Years ago on a Monday, my daughter broke a school high jump record. On Wednesday of that week, she couldn't clear an easy height. From the stands, I could see she was clearly upset; not angry or sad; she was embarrassed.
It's great to celebrate the Mondays of our life. In reality, there are a lot of Wednesdays. Allow Wednesdays to inspire you to work harder for the things you want. Don't quit just because the result you wanted didn't happen.
In 1973, I competed in the Iroquois County 4-H Speaking Contest at the fairgrounds. I got a red ribbon, the ONLY red ribbon. Imagine how different life (mine and yours) would have been if I had given up. Today, speaking and writing are part of every day for me.
If you're coming to state fair, come look me up at the 4-H booth. Tell me your Monday stories and your Wednesday stories. I'll have a special gift for the first 10 each day. When you walk in the Orr Building, just ask for Judy Mae, you know, the girl who got a red ribbon 46 years ago this week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy Mae Bingman, University of Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager
Judy uses powerful words and photography to tell the Extension story. She is a skilled communication strategist and storyteller with demonstrated success in building teams and creating strong organizational brand identities that deepen Extension’s impact among key audiences, build brand loyalty, strengthen employee talent, and expand public engagement. She is a frequent conference presenter at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference and helps Extension staff across the nation tell compelling stories.