The three judges beamed at me. Buoyed by their support, I anticipated winning this college elocution competition. I nailed the first verse of my chosen poem, but might as well have been under general anesthesia when trying to remember a single word of the second verse. Now the judges’ encouraging smiles only roiled my rising panic. Finally, the timer buzzed, ending my turn on stage and initiating a two-decade fear of memorization.
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