If walking into high school somebody told me that I would willingly join a competitive public speaking team, loving it so much that I would eventually become President, I would reply that the chances of that happening are lower than those of Miley Cyrus becoming President.
At the time, I feared public speaking like the black plague. Standing in front of an audience made me tremble. This is exactly why I thought it would be a great idea to join the forensics team.
Forensics, not the type seen on CSI, is an activity based on competition in various areas of Speech and Debate. Events included various types of debate, speech performance and acting events.
Walking into my first tournament, I was beyond nervous. Yet I walked out wanting more. Forensics gave me a voice, a group of other passionate individuals to speak to and pushed me to conquer my fears. I have competed in a variety of events: Declamation (presenting a memorized speech that was given by somebody else), Extemporaneous Speaking (presenting limited preparation speeches on current affairs) and Original Oratory (presenting an original speech).
The most powerful event of all is Original Oratory. Over the course of the last season I have been mesmerized, listening to the diverse range of opinions and speeches I have seen. Topics have included tragedy, stereotypes and even lactose intolerance. But what stood out to me was not only the variety of topics, but also the passion each speaker possesses.
My speech discusses the perils of the current era of overachievers, an issue close to my heart. Writing the piece felt extremely natural, because it tells the story of my life. I reflected on moments where I feel that #thestruggleisreal, not going away over spring break because of AP exams, and how Starbucks is my pharmacy as a teenager with an intravenous coffee drip.
More important than any individual speech is the overarching idea behind Original Oratory -- giving teenagers a forum to express opinions and form strong voices. The power of a voice in the 21st century is greater than ever, we are the generation of advocacy.
The generation of advocacy is fueled by a strong voice, one that forensics brought out in me. More teenagers today need to speak up and give forensics a chance, conquer that fear of public speaking, and let their voices be heard.