To any 15-year-old, standing before and speaking to more than 50 people, and vulnerable to their judgemental gaze, is and probably will always be terrifying.
I somehow managed to muster up courage and get on with it before I puked out my lunch. And it was the first time in my life that I succeeded. When I first joined my school’s Debate Federation, I was a nervous wreck. The hot Malaysian air was sweeping past my face as I waited for my seniors to show me the way.
With sweaty palms and goosebumps, I made my way up to the front and took a good look at everyone.
Terrifying seniors, check. Quivering lip, check. Smirking-from-ear-to-ear peers, check.
“What have I gotten myself into?” was the first thing that popped up in my brain.
I took deep breaths and began with a humorous introduction. Then, as I saw them enjoying it, I gained some confidence. I carried on with the rest of my speech and I really could not believe that I had achieved it.
They clapped and I, for once, felt my confidence grow.
The greatest thing that I learned as a debator was to try and, if you fail, then try again.
The person who does not even try is the person who truly fails in the end.
And I have learned to use this lesson outside of the air-conditioned rooms, too.
As a debater, hearing other people’s opinions is essential. I have learned to open my ears and my mind to listen to what others are saying, regardless of whether or not I agree with their views.
This has given me a whole new perspective, and I have learned something that no classroom syllabus can teach you: tolerance.
As I learn more about world issues, social problems and other such weighty topics, I truly feel satisfied because I get to use what I learn not only in debating but in my life as a whole.
Plus, it feels good to get to win an argument with my brother once in a while.
So, even though I am still stuttering here and there, my knowledge and newly-gained confidence have made me a better person in life. And I definitely have to thank my debate teacher, Mrs Harjit, for introducing debating to me in the first place. I also have to thank my beloved seniors, Nuwan Perera, Sanjiv Raj and Jagetheeshwar, along with my wise coach Farook and my peers for their time spent in helping me to improve.
Hopefully, following all my efforts, I will be able to speak with style and not have my brain all jumbled up like a tumble weed.
By Loshanna Lakshmishree Ravi , 15, Kuala Lumpur
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