You are standing in front of a your class, they are all waiting for you to say something utterly interesting and funny. In your hands you’re holding a paper with a great speech written on it, and so you clear your throat and then you take a deep breath while you lower your eyes to the paper. But then it hits you; you can’t read the words on the paper any longer, your hands are shaking to much and the words has become a black mess.
You are in a discussion about something you are really passionate about and you truly want to prove your point to the other. Slowly you are perceiving yourself lose and you realize that you will soon have run out of arguments of why Donald Trump should not become the next president of America. The wall is being built right before your eyes and you want nothing else but to stop it, you just don’t know how.
These are two uncomfortable and rather common situations that a lot of us can relate to If I told you that there is a chance for you to prevent them from happening, wouldn’t you take it?
If the answer is yes, then keep reading!
I got into debating about a year ago, it was around Christmas last year that I saw some ads in the hallway about a debate with the subject: Is Santa actually Satan? First I thought it sounded kind of lame, but anyhow I decided to attend. When the event started I had to admit that it exceeded my expectations. It was actually very exciting, standing in a circle, throwing totally illogic arguments at each other. My opinion had totally changed! After Christmas I attended my next meeting with my mindset on a similar debate like the one I had already been to. Well, let’s just say I was very wrong. I hadn’t understood that this one was a debate according to competitive debating rules, where you have to stand up for eight minutes straight to explain your arguments.
A barrier I had to consider and climb over was that since I am from the Swedish section I was not very used to speaking English on a higher level, let alone in front of a group of people for six minutes straight. Also I hadn’t really understood the topic we were debating, which resulted in a awkward silences, random sentences and words that made no sense. It wasn’t over after those absolutely terrifying and embarrassing minutes for I had to stand up again and do a reply speech for 4 minutes. As you can guess my first thought after this was: never again. But after some positive feedback from one of the coaches I slowly started to take in the whole experience. The embarrassment that I had felt started to fade and get replaced by something else. I was hit by the feeling you get when you do something really challenging and manage to complete it although it’s really hard (think marathon level). Though it had been mortifying while standing there, I afterwards felt so glad and proud that I pushed myself not to quit in the middle, (trust me, a lot of escpae-plans ran through my mind. I even considered playing acutely ill or pretending to faint).
So as you can guess from me writing this I wasn’t scared away from debate and my one near panic-attack situation. Now I have been debating for 8 months, and participated in two tournaments, one in the Czech Republic. When I look back at my first debate I am so pleased that I pushed myself through it as today I am so much more confident in debating, presenting and performing schoolwork in general. I do still get the same butterflies and queasy feelings when standing at the podium, but now it motivates me to improve every time I debate.
So whether you want to beat Trump, or not have to rely on your blurry notes in your hand; start debating. After you do, I promise you that next time it’s your turn to hold that presentation in front of the class, you will do it so easily. It will hit you that it’s almost as easy as sitting by the dinner table and telling your mom about your day.
Jana Paegle | 11 Mar
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