Debating My Way to Certainty

The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?


I have no idea why freshman me signed up for debate. However, I marked a check next to “DEBATE1” on my tentative schedule because it seemed like the thing nerdy kids do and I most definitely am a nerdy kid. My first time competing at a debate tournament was an absolute disaster. I decided to take the lesser known ‘interp’ route of high school speech and debate competitions. I prepared a monologue from one of my favorite novels, ‘Anne of Green Gables’, as my Dramatic Interpretation (or DI) piece. Little did I know how dramatic DI pieces really were. While I took “dramatic” in the context of being in a play or theatrical, “dramatic” in DI means more like crying your heart out in front of a room full of strangers. In fact, speech and debaters like to jokingly pronounce DI as “die” in reference to how prevalent the theme of death is. Not only did I feel embarrassed by the inappropriateness of my piece, I felt deathly anxious the whole time I was speaking. However, after striking out I expanded to other events and was amazed at how easily public speaking eventually came to me.

Even more amazingly, I actually enjoyed public speaking. Although I could sometimes feel my knees or hands shake I loved the adrenaline I felt in facing my...

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