And the winner is...not you!
In September of 2015 my partner and I competed for the local power exchange title, and didn't win. Since that time I've had a few things that have bothered me, and I've kept them to myself for the most part. Since traveling to more title events and seeing the same things that bothered me, continue to happen to others, I've decided to throw this out there.
Here's a little background on what it is like to compete (experiences obviously vary):
The next hardest thing is that you are expected to socialize immediately following the announcement. There is little to no time to process what has happened and just let go. As stated before, the flood of people come in and they all want to tell you what they think of how you did.
Don't focus on what you want them to know.
While I realize that it is with the best intention, wording things as "I just want you to know..." doesn't open discourse for what happened. You are literally saying that you want the person to know something, and that is it. It is a common empathy blocker that we are taught in an attempt to make others feel better, but you're not asking how they're doing, you're projecting your feelings onto them and hoping that they stick.
Don't tell the person that they were robbed of their title, or that the judging was rigged.
That to them says that they had no chance of winning regardless of how hard they worked. It says that despite their work, the community doesn't support them. It also says that the winners are more important than you are, therefore you had no chance over them.
Don't tell someone that you are the same boat as them because you too didn't win a title previously.
No two contestants/partnerships/etc. are the same and while you may understand not winning, your path wasn't the same and you didn't put in the same work. What is hard work for one, may be easy work for another (and vise versa).
Don't tell them not to give up because they didn't win. It's insulting.
No one goes through life never facing adversity, and insinuating that someone will "give up" or leave the lifestyle because of not winning a title disregards all the work they've done prior to trying to run. Yes people do give up, and that's fine. Some people need time, not because they don't have a patch on their back, but because running is exhausting. Give them their time, check-in if you're close, and be respectful regardless of their decision.
Don't say that everyone is a winner.
Saying that everyone is a winner also negates the difference between your titleholders and those who didn't make it. If your winners truly deserve their title, then they need the recognition that they did in fact "win" after everything, not have it negated with "well we think you are all winners!"
Next, that statement doesn't help those who didn't win feel better, because while saying those words, no one cares what the other contestants do during the next year (on the event level). They aren't getting a travel stipend, there are no posts about what they're doing or the work they have done, and in some cases they are simply forgotten about. This is all (to an extent) what you expect when you don't win, and that's ok.
So again, I get the intent behind the statement, but it is just another way of trying to project an emotion onto someone else in hopes that they'll feel better. Can everyone get something positive out of competing? Sure. Are they guaranteed to? No. Instead, better words could be "you all did great," or "you worked your butt off!" There are lots of other ways to let someone know that you are acknowledging their hard work without negating it at the same time.
If you really want to help out a friend who is in this situation, ask what they need.Open dialogue for telling them that they did well and allowing them to thank you and walk away if they need or continue the discussion. In many cases they are having to be social because it is required, not because they want to have hundreds of people give them pity. Bring up other conversation topics and help them think about something else if needed.
Understand that even the strongest personalities just need some recoup time. Contests help many contestants understand more about themselves, their dynamics, their relationships, identities, etc. but it isn't something that all people gain from a contest. Some already have a strong grip on all those things, so don't try to push that they must have had some "huge revelation" or they didn't do it right. Accept that even those people might just need to decompress for a little after the event (if they have time to).
Not everyone is going to be up for attempting a title they didn't win again.Some are ok with continuing to go back and retry to win a title, which is fine. Others, like myself, don't really care to re-attempt a previously lost title because it feels like we're just trying to get THAT back patch. Both are acceptable approaches, so if you're an organizer please don't seem offended because someone might not want to compete again.
All in all, just understand that the process is time consuming and both physically and mentally exhausting, and how you treat your friends after a loss really does say a lot.
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Ignixia is an international kink and alternative sexuality educator. The following blog entries range from educational information and resources from her classes to daily musings had on things occurring in the world.