The year was 1991.
I was 11-years-old and going to perform solo in the dance section of the Taree and District Eisteddfod for the first time.
My novice jazz routine was to the song I Want That Man by Deborah Harry and my costume was a hot pink lycra long sleeved leotard with skirt, with purple sequins around the neckline and bottom of the skirt.
I was so excited.
Our dressing room was the Tourist Information Centre (see photo) and we waited there until it was time to head over to the Manning Entertainment Centre to perform.
I remember feeling so nervous and worrying that I would forget my routine.
That didn’t happen. I had a ball, but I also discovered I had a LOT of work to do.
Eisteddfod president Tim Stack described it to me on Tuesday this week (April 18) as "seeing where you are in the deck”, and that was definitely my experience.
Exposed to dancers from across the region I quickly realised I was nowhere near where I wanted to be and it gave me the inspiration and motivation to work harder.
I can’t remember whether I received a prize or encouragement award that day, probably not. Winning something wasn’t the most important thing to me, although it was always a thrill and a confidence boost when it did happen.
It all falls in within the eisteddfod’s motto: “The purpose is not to win a prize but to pace one another on the road to excellence.”
The eisteddfod ended up becoming a huge part of my life and over the years I competed in just about every category, from dance to vocal, drama to piano and the school choirs.
It gave me lessons in improving myself, to be able to improvise and keep going when things went wrong, to handle other people’s opinions and the discipline it takes to work towards a goal.
I learned not to put too much weight on winning a prize but to pay more attention to the comments in the adjudicators’ reports, which were always encouraging but gave me things to work on for next time.
I also met a lot of awesome people in my fellow competitors and had lots of fun with them backstage.
With Taree and District Eisteddfod marking it’s 50th anniversary this year we’d love to hear from our readers about their eisteddfod experiences. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org