Speechtime Revelations

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

“The U.S. and China should work to unify the Koreas.”

Eight minutes left.

As I walk to the podium, I present myself as a confident junior. Yet in my mind, I am still a freshman, stammering through my first speech, unnerved by the seven pairs of eyes peering at me.Is my posture straight? Yes. Is my hair too messy? I fixed it. Is my dress wrinkled? Probably. Could they see the beads of sweat on my forehead? Hopefully not. Does my voice sound weird?I shrink behind my screen and stumble through the words. Am I saying the wrong thing? This checklist was a ritual in every presentation I gave.

“North Korea is close to collapse.”

Seven minutes.

My overconfident junior self scoffs at this checklist. She convinces herself that they are saying the wrong thing. The opponent’s suit is wrinkled. His hair is messy too. She convinces herself that she is considerably better than he is. As the junior’s self-assuredness begins to overpower the speech, the freshman’s nervousness extinguishes that confidence. My voice cracks.

“The plan leads to Korean security.”

Six minutes.

The opponent’s argument is valid – he pointed out that Korean unification was implausible with the sheer number of refugees in North Korea. How had I not thought of that? My...

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