On the day of my first debate competition, nerves bounced around in my gut. I was scared that I would stumble over words or freeze up when being interrogated about what my speech said. I was also excited, though. I was eagerly awaiting the moment when I showed my team and our opponents what I could do in my speech. I couldn’t believe myself how far I came to get to that moment right before I stood up and talked about why a government should prioritize civil liberties over national security.
I have always been a very shy kid, so announcing that I wanted to try out for the debate team came as a surprise to many. Knowing me, no one would have thought that I would be brave enough to speak and be cross examined in front of people.
After I joined the team, at first, I was more interested in writing and researching, because that is what I do best. I am good at retrieving and analyzing evidence, as well as putting them into persuasive pieces of writing. But soon after we began to prepare and formulate arguments, I wanted to try to speak. I would watch other kids, because they were much more forceful, loud, and clear. I learned by watching these talented kids speak and defend their arguments. I saw how they always looked out at the audience, and no matter how loud they were afraid they could be, they always spoke in a persuasive and raised voice. I listened to their critiques and applied them to my own speech.
One day, one of the teachers told me to go up. I was certain that I would fail. But I did it anyway, because trying doesn’t hurt anybody. Even though I was shaking when I tried out, when it was my turn to finally speak, it was almost as if I had been speaking the whole time. To my astonishment, everyone loved it. I was then chosen to represent my team for one speech at the debate. This made me proud and showed me that I could be like many of those on my team.
My team won our first competition. After a lot of hard work, it finally paid off. I had made myself proud as well as the rest of the team. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
Through debate, I learned how to do things that I never thought I could do before. I learned how to speak persuasively and how to not be afraid to speak up. I came into debate as a smart girl who really just wanted to write and do research. But in the end, I had grown as a person and was ready to convince the judges that my side was the better one. If it weren’t for the debate team, I would still be a shy girl who was too afraid to express her opinion.
A note from the Stone Soup team: Thanks Lucy! How many other readers have felt shy about speaking up and overcome their fear, like Lucy? Tell us about your experiences!