Five Life Skills I Learned From Debate

Five Life Skills I Learned From Debate

Seriously, I probably learned more here than I did in class.

Debate season is starting up again! I first began debating during my freshman year of high school. Sometimes I wonder why I've spent the past eight years involved in this activity, but then I remember debate has forced me to grow in many ways. And while it is a school activity, the lessons learned extend far beyond the classroom.

In honor of the new season, here are five important lessons debate taught me:

1. Examine both sides of an issue

This one seems obvious, but I'm always surprised by how many people are unable to understand people who disagree with them. In order to debate successfully, you must research things that your opponent will say. You need to understand the arguments on the other side, which helps you strengthen your own case. Debate has given me the chance to learn about topics that I never would have imagined. I am a more well-rounded individual and I can better articulate my beliefs as a result.

2. You need to be able to think on your feet

Sure, you can construct a bulletproof case, but things never go as planned. Cross-examination can be full of surprises and every debater knows that you need to be a quick thinker if you want to survive. You must be able to answer the tough questions, both in debate and in everyday life.

3. Listening is as important as speaking

This one seems strange, since you obviously need to give a great speech in order to win a debate. But you cannot focus solely on what you want to say and completely ignore the person speaking. If you do that, you aren't actually responding to the arguments at hand. A debate without clash is hardly a debate at all. This illustrates a good life lesson: You can't expect to be successful if you don't actively listen to others.

4. Be capable of thriving in a competitive environment

I've always loved competition, but I know quite a few people who hate it. Some people will avoid confrontation at all costs. Debate is highly competitive, but it is relatively civil in terms of argumentation. This makes it a great opportunity to become comfortable with confrontation while it is in a structured environment. Debate is also a place where you eventually recognize that you can be successful even if you don't always win.

5. People are interesting, so get to know them

This is not to say that I love every person that I've met through debate. I certainly haven't. But debate is a great opportunity to branch out and meet people with a different worldview and different life experiences. The friends I have made through debate are a reminder that you can repeatedly disagree with someone and still maintain a strong relationship with mutual respect.

And for all of these reasons, this is why I don't regret my decision to join the debate team, no matter how frustrating or time-consuming it has been. The valuable lessons learned outweigh any negatives.

Cover Image Credit: Lacie Fink

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.


Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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My Hometown Just Experienced A Mass Shooting, If We Don't Do Something, Yours Could Be Next

You never think it will happen to you until it does.


I was on my way out the door to work when I got a panicked call from my mother.

"Can you look at the news online?" she said quickly. "There is a mass shooting somewhere nearby."

My heart stopped. For me, Aurora, Illinois is home. I was born there, I grew up around the area and I attended high school there. My siblings go to school close by and my boyfriend works for a neighboring fire department.

How could my beloved hometown become the victim of the latest tragedy?

After calling my boyfriend, who was at the fire station getting ready to deploy ambulances to the scene, I discovered that it had taken place at a factory nearby. My anxiety hit an all-time high as I watched the updates on all of the local city Facebook pages and groups. Officers down. Gunman at large. Mass casualties.

Hours later, all of the facts came out. A former employee of Henry Pratt's Company, a local industrial warehouse, had recently been let go and decided to get revenge. He entered the warehouse with a gun and began to shoot at random, killing five people and wounding many others, including five police officers. He was killed by local SWAT forces.

I am the kind of person who is pro-gun and pro-gun rights because of the second amendment and all of the freedoms I believe we deserve. But that doesn't make what happened okay and it never will.

While this situation doesn't change my mind, it does change my view of the world.

Why would somebody decide that shooting former coworkers was the way to go? Why would anyone want to hurt others? These are the questions that flooded my mind in the hours after the mass shooting. I don't necessarily think we have a gun issue in America, but issues with mental health and valuing life.

We pass bills to kill unborn children. We repeal bills that take away healthcare from million. We devalue life in its most basic form and respect those around us to still have enough respect for each other's lives. We stigmatize those who need psychiatric care and expect things to still be alright.

This is not alright.

Our country, our system, our values, and morals, they are all broken and backward. We have let mass shootings become normal and violence becomes accepted. It needs to be stopped. There needs to be a change.

One of the people killed was an intern from a local college during his first day on the job. Being a college student applying to internships myself, this hit far too close to home. Nobody deserves to die, least of all in their place of work while trying to further their career.

Five people lost their lives due to someone's disrespect of them. Yes, a gun was the weapon, but a mind was the actor. I pray that someday, our country will return to valuing life and respecting others enough to help them instead of pushing them away. This is not the first mass shooting, but it can be the last. If, and only if, we make sure of it.

If you want to help the victim's families in any way, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses

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