what it’s like being married to a world champion
as you may or may not know…i happen to be married to the 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking, Ryan Avery (or as i lovingly refer to him: ravery). he competed against more than 30,000 people from 116 countries and is also the youngest to ever win-can you tell i’m a proud wife? i also more than just married the guy…i coached him through this whole process. talk about a new wifestyle and pushing your relationship to new levels. check out his award-winning speech below, called “Trust is a Must” (it’s part of our love story)
our journey started in january 2012 when he walked out to our living room in portland, oregon and said “BABE! i’m going to go for the world championship of public speaking?” i looked up and said “oh, that’s a real thing?!” turns out…it is. i told him that if was willing to dedicate himself 100% to this, then i would do the same. none of this “meh, i changed my mind-let’s go do something else” or “this is way too hard, what was i thinking” crap. i told him that i would hold him accountable until the competition was complete. he agreed and neither of us really knew what this meant except we had a lot of hard work ahead of us.
my husband is a very visual person so he politely asked if we could turn one wall of our apartment into a white board wall so he could craft his speeches. sure, why not…plus it felt kind of taboo to be writing on the walls.
it essentially became our life to be learning everything we could about public speaking. we read books, watched the past 25 years of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners and tried a lot of different things.
here’s how it works: there are 6 levels of competition and you have to win every single one or you can’t advance. you start at your club level, then move on to area, division, and then your district level-basically the nationals equivalent (shout out to our home district 7 because they gave us so much support and we miss them dearly!) after you win your district competition-you are officially going to the semi-finals of the world championship. through these 5 levels, you are able to use the same speech and ravery’s was entitled “Push Past It.”
here is us at the district competition-they were so sweet and the district governor said “we all know why he won…so let’s bring chelsea on stage.” naturally, i was sweaty and nervous but thankfully i can still smile through that!
oh, you noticed his crutches and massive leg brace? that’s because he had surgery a month earlier thanks to an extra bone that grew in his knee and jutted through a tendon (what a flipping overachiever…growin’ extra bones and crap). that made for some interesting training. you don’t see it here but he starts and ends his speech with jumping off that wooden stool you see in the picture with the white board…i truly almost threw up every time he maneuvered that on his crutches.
we now know we are going to orlando, florida for the toastmasters international convention and world championship but this also means that you need to develop a second speech for “the big stage.” 85 of the top speakers from around the world compete in 9 different semi-finals and the 9 winners get to deliver this second speech in front of 2,000 people.
we dove into prepping for the second speech (“trust is a must”) and that is when i really had to figure out the fine balance of how to move appropriately between being an-ass-kicking-coach and a loving and supportive wife. i didn’t always get it right. there were times when i probably should have let up and just held his hand and told him to do his best and other times when i should have refocused him to working on the speech. looking back, it was one of the more enjoyable but also challenging times in our relationship but i am so glad we went through this together. i knew how consuming it would be for him to pour 100% of himself into this so i knew that if i wanted to see my husband and be involved with this…i had to get on board.
a few months into the process, we had talked about this being a central focus in our life currently but both of us agreed-our marriage always came first. this meant making sure we were still making some time to enjoy our city-like our fun date of going on a sunset sailboat cruise around the willamette river. it also meant that if he told me to just “push past it” after a tough day and i gave him ‘the look’-he better not crack anymore speech-related jokes or i’d lose it.
my husband is also very open to receiving feedback and truly taking it in. when i gave suggestions on how the speech didn’t flow quite right or his facial expressions seems funky during a certain part, he would not only listen but then also incorporate my feedback. this made me feel like what i had to say was valuable so it made me want to continue working with him in this aspect.
in addition, he was very vocally appreciative of my time and energy that i put into coaching him as opposed to spending time on other things. i never felt as though it was a waste of my time and this was a huge reason why-he acknowledged my work both as a coach and as his wife.
let’s fast forward through some of the meltdowns we had, him practicing his speech in a sauna/middle of downtown/on an airplane and now we have arrived in florida, anxiously awaiting his turn (number 8) to give his semi-finals speech to see if he will advance to the finals to give “trust is a must.”
here we are anxiously awaiting semi-finals. just looking at this picture makes me incredibly nervous because sometimes i forget that all of this has happened in real life and not my made up dream world. don’t pretend like you don’t have a made up dream world too.
he truly competed against some of the best speakers out of the 3 other semi-finals we sat in on-needless to say i was a sweaty mess waiting for the results. he won it. he leaned over to me and said “i cannot WAIT to deliver my message of trust, it doesn’t matter if i win that…i just feel so fortunate to share my message with a willing audience.” this is so true because those other 8 people from his semi-finals all had another speech in their back pocket that they would not get to share that year. talk about a sleepless night.
saturday morning, august 18, 2012 and we had to be there at 6am for the sound check and everyone got 2 minutes on stage. i essentially paced back and forth for 2 hours before they let the floodgates of people in (and tried not to focus on the fact that it was only 3am portland time).
he was once again speaker number 8 and i sat behind him, awkwardly holding his hand between chairs (the front row was just for contestants). this is what we prepared for and this is what we spent 9 months of our life dedicated to (i tried a few sentences comparing it to like growing a baby but it was too weird) and the time was finally here. he delivered (see, baby joke could go here too) the best version of that speech on that day. after they called 3rd place and after they called 2nd place….i thought to myself “holy shit. his mantra of ‘dream BIG’ is about to become a reality. i can never again make fun of this because he not only believes in dreaming big but he freakin’ DOES it.). “…and the winner of the 2012 world championship of public speaking is…RYAN AVERY.” that’s my boo.
check out that hug pile complete with him, his mom, his dad and me. my mom and grandparents were also in the audience (we really do have amazing families) and i could have probably hugged him for hours if people weren’t telling him to get on stage and give his acceptance speech. he never practiced this speech in front of me or told me what he would say if he won. i still cry every. single. time. i hear it.
we walked out of those doors to that big room and our lives changed. our lives changed because we did something big together. some of my pessimistic self decreased that day because i watched someone i love very much accomplish something huge by working hard and giving it every single thing he had. our lives changed because it gave us a new opportunity to explore something new and the opportunity to do it together.
so what’s it like being married to a world champion? i don’t really know because thankfully my husband is still the core of the person i married almost 3 years ago. he’s still the goofy guy that cracks me up, brings me surprise cookies and still appreciates who i am and what i bring to our relationship. well, i guess there is a trophy that has to best dusted every now and then.
while i don’t feel like my husband struts around differently because of this title, it certainly has given us the opportunity to meet a lot of great people, travel and push myself crazily outside of my comfort zone (more on that later). oh and he also got a wheaties box! just kidding, i spent 2 hours crafting that and casually put it on our cereal shelf so i could watch his reaction when discovering this new cereal. i also covered up bruce jennar. i have been known to go to great lengths to amuse us.
be sure to check out ravery’s recap of how your life can change in a year! he’s super inspiring AND he uses capitalization.
we are off to the world championships tomorrow-this time in cincinnati, ohio to reconnect with a lot of the new people in our lives and see the who will be crowned the 2013 world champion, all while sitting right next to each other, holding hands and hopefully slightly less nervous.
the new wifestyle: there will be times when you and/or your spouse undertake a big goal, continue to prioritize your relationship but jump in and figure out how to not only support one another but contribute as well!
questions: (feel free to answer any/all or leave a comment)!
1) if you could be known at being the world champion at something…what would it be?
2) have you ever had to play a dual role in your relationship? how’d you balance that?
3) do you ever get nervous for other people? i call it empathetic anxiety.
4) what inspires you most about your significant other?