Once a year the Carpenter and I get dressed up fancy and go out. Together. In public. 

Our annual outing is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre Wellington Big Night Out Gala.  This event is the highlight of my year because this is my charity of choice. 

It’s an organization that I know changes lives for the better because in February, I celebrated 24 years as a big sister. 

My little sister Morgan is all grown up now, raising two young children on Canada’s east coast. She is strong, compassionate and confident in herself. Every challenge she has faced, she has dealt with courageously. I think she is amazing. 

And while it was my role to mentor her, the truth is, Morgan made me a better person. 

On Saturday night I had the honour to emcee the BBBSCW gala, a role I was thrilled to have. When I get on that stage as Morgan’s big sister, I know I can bring the message home authentically. Speaking from the heart makes me fearless. I forget that I’m capable of that, until I do it. I like the fearless me.

The anxious me is messy. I spent the week leading up to the gala pushing down anxiety for a variety of reasons too numerous to name, but the loudest one was ridiculous. 

I was deep in the fear of shallowness: was I going to look okay on that stage? I am not a vain person, but the pressure to perform and look good doing it was putting me on edge. The thought of applying full coverage makeup alone was enough to induce panic. Then there was hair to style, an outfit to coordinate, ugh. I failed feminine elegance 101. What if I failed at this? In front of 300 people. 

I have many people to thank for not allowing that anxiety to win. From the friends who offered me dresses, to the one that actually left me a bag of gorgeous gowns on her porch so I wouldn’t say no, all of whom cheered me on when I chose a dress I already had in my closet. 

But the real trouper is my gal pal who bravely went to a mall with me. She helped me shop for jewelry, plus the under garments that made stuffing myself into the dress like a human sausage seem almost normal. 

She also endured numerous panicked texts about makeup application, including questions like, “why do I need concealer if I have nothing to conceal?” I am pretty sure she threw her phone after receiving that message.

The day of the gala, all the anxiety went away. Gone. Like it never happened. I was cool as a cucumber. I had a mission to help an organization that I truly believed in and they were counting on me to do a good job. I wasn’t going to let them down. I hope I didn’t. 

Not only did I apply makeup, without injury, but I squeezed into that sausage-casing dress like I was born for Lycra (I was absolutely built for Lycra). Morgan would have been proud. 

It’s easy to be fearless when you believe in something bigger than yourself. Being a big sister changed my life. It changed Morgan’s life too. I hope the success of the gala gives many children in my community a chance to create a friendship like ours.

What an honour, indeed.

WriteOut of Her Mind