I ran to Leo’s less than four hours before the Mr. Georgetown Pageant last Friday, and my dinner-table conversation quickly turned to the upcoming show. I told my friend I wasn’t too nervous because I didn’t really want to win — I just wanted to make the top six so that I could perform in the talent section.

I was lying. I was very nervous. I would have to be in a Speedo in front of hundreds of people and somehow charm an audience during the question portion. Maybe then I would qualify for the top six and get to sing “Home,” as performed originally by none other than the late Whitney Houston.

The chance to perform the song was the reason I entered Mr. Georgetown in the first place. But for weeks leading up to Friday, I was met with unanimous shock and horror when I told people I was performing a song by Whitney Houston, since hearing one of her songs makes listeners miss her even more. Fortunately, “Home” didn’t appear on any of her albums, and most people wouldn’t be able to compare my performance to Houston’s if I sang the song in public.

During sound check at the pageant, I felt the pressure rising among the guys. We were all nervous. When we entered Gaston Hall and prepared to step on stage, we all hugged and said good luck. I told myself to let go and ran onto the stage.

I did make it to the top six, and in the 30 minutes I had before going on stage to perform, I changed clothes, drank lots of tea and paced around backstage. I couldn’t listen to other people perform their talents — it made me too nervous. I looked through my iPhone in search of the song I wanted to hear but couldn’t find it. This made me anxious, and I started to panic. I left the backstage area, and, before I knew it, I had left Healy through the Dahlgren entrance. I was so afraid of the song I had to sing in a matter of minutes.

I tried to calm my breath, and I looked through my phone one last time to see “One Moment in Time” by Houston flash on the screen of my phone — I knew it would be the perfect song. I pressed play, dried my eyes and listened.

I stepped out on the stage. The light was so bright that I could only see the dim outline of bodies in the front row of Gaston. It was like I was alone. This is not what I thought it’d be like.

I waited till the last moment, pressed my lips to the microphone and started. I could feel myself thinking more than singing. “Sing through this phrase.” “More vibrato.” “Straight tone through this.” “Go for it here.” It was happening more naturally than I had expected, and the words were flowing like I was saying them for the first time. The high notes felt mid-range and comfortable, and the low notes felt good. I held out the second-to-last phrase and opened my eyes before taking my final breath before the last belt.

Joy rushed to my head, through my fingertips and down to my knees. “One Moment in Time” described it perfectly. It’s about one moment when you can be the best you are, and if you let go and surpass your own potential when it matters, you’ll feel free — free of expectations and fear.

That night, I looked across the room from my bed and saw the robe draped against my chair, the roses near my mirror and the crown near my iron. I smiled, and I went to bed with a memory of that moment on stage, in front of my school — one moment I won’t forget.

STEFANE VICTOR is a senior in the College. He won the 2012 Mr. Georgetown Pageant, in which he represented the Black Student Alliance.

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