I Didn't Want To Join Forensics, But When I Did, They Became My Second Family

I Didn't Want To Join Forensics, But When I Did, They Became My Second Family

Although it was extremely time consuming and may have labeled me a “nerd,” I'm glad I joined.

When my dad told me to join forensics (speech and debate) my sophomore year, I internally cringed. I was already kinda nerdy and joining speech and debate would officially label me a nerd. However, there was a small part of me that had always wanted to join the club and so I finally listened to that part and joined forensics my sophomore year.

Looking back, I am glad I listened to my dad and the small voice inside me telling me to join the club. Through this activity, I have made many new friends from different schools, and I even met my best friend. Forensics is a lot more than a club to me, it is a team, a second family. Before I joined forensics, I was very shy and lacked a lot of self-confidence. I always did what was “safe” and stuck to what I knew best. However, this activity has helped me learn a lot about myself. Although I was very mediocre at what I did, forensics has given me a self-confidence that no other activity has given me.

In forensics, there are many subevents. There are speech and debate and many different kinds of speech and debate events. When I first joined, I did declamation, which is basically giving another person’s TED Talk or speech. I did Declamation because it was “easy” and “safe.” However my junior year I decided to try an acting heavy speech event. I was always interested in the acting events however it was very different from what I was used to doing. At first, the acting events felt very weird and kind of awkward, however as the year went by I grew more and more comfortable with this previously uncomfortable event and grew to love it. I always remember this now when I am trying new things. This has taught me to try new things and step out of my bubble because it helps me grow as a person.

This activity has also taught me that there is always room for improvement. It has shown me the importance of hard work and persistence. In forensics, every Saturday we wear suits and compete against people from different schools across the state. A judge ranks us from 1 (the best) to 6 (the worst in the room). The judge writes constructive criticism on a ballot justifying the rank as well. When I started forensics I would never proceed to the final rounds. I would generally get 6th in the room and it was humiliating. There were many, many times I wanted to quit the team. However, I continued to work hard and keep competing every weekend until ultimately I finally started to do better. Although I never did extremely well, I did eventually start to get 1s and 2s and proceed to finals. This was hard evidence that hard work pays off and if you are passionate about something, keep going at it. Even when I would get a 1 in a prelim round there were always comments that told me ways to improve. Sometimes I would do well one week and then crash and burn the following week. This taught me that you have to keep working hard, stay humble and not get complacent.

To anyone reading this, listen to any voice inside you. I have learned so much more about myself and the world and people around me through this activity. Although it was extremely time consuming and may have labeled me a “nerd,” I'm glad I joined.

Cover Image Credit: Vanshika Bhatia

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

They will do anything for you, literally.


I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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An Open Letter To The One Who Left Without Saying Goodbye

I'm glad that you're moving on with your life, but did you even think of me when you left for good? After all, we used to be best friends.


I get it. You just graduated and you're ready to move on with your life. I'm seriously so proud of you that you get to go live your dreams and be where you have always wanted to end up.

I'm so sorry that our friendship didn't work out. But that doesn't stop me from wondering why you didn't reach out to me one last time before you left for good, knowing that we most likely won't ever see each other again.

I remember the first day I met you. For someone with anxiety, talking to you, a complete stranger, was a huge thing for me. But you were so easy to talk to. We bonded over our anxieties and our love for TV shows and movies. We bonded over not knowing anyone else and feeling super awkward.

But the thing that I remember most about the day that we met was a comment someone made to us. When she saw how we talked and acted with each other, she asked if we had known each other for a long time.

When we told her we had literally met that same morning, she was shocked, saying that she knew we were going to be great friends.

And she wasn't wrong, for the most part. You were the first person who seemed to truly accept me.

You supported me through whatever, and you supported my need to escape into fictional worlds and to be lazy when the world became too much to handle.

But somewhere along the line, things went wrong. I don't know what I did wrong. Maybe I let you in a little too much. I exposed all of my flaws and insecurities. And you used them against me.

You made me feel the way about myself that you had spent months telling me wasn't true. You told me everything about myself that I needed to change, and then called it "constructive criticism". All because you didn't get what you wanted.

From that moment on, though we were still friends for another year after that, I never felt the same.

I no longer felt the comfort of your support. I could only think of how you criticized me, on stuff that you knew I was trying to work on but was struggling with. How was I supposed to change if in that one day I lost all the support that I so desperately believed that I needed?

And then came me moving away. You promised me that we wouldn't fall apart. I told you I was being realistic and that we would probably grow apart, not by choice, but just because of the distance and how different our lives would be.

And I was right. We grew further and further away from each other. During that time, I grew as a person. Maybe you did, too, I wouldn't know. I just know that you had a falling out with our other best friends, the ones that made us a group of four.

And I couldn't see how I could be your friend with you not speaking to them. I wouldn't be able to handle it, knowing that bond that we all once had was gone forever. The puzzle was broken.

So when I saw the pictures of your graduation last weekend, I didn't know how to feel. I was happy for you, you get to go live your dream. The other part of me wonders why, on your end, we stopped talking.

I know mine, but you just faded away on your end. You never answered the last Snapchat. You never texted back. Did you have a reason?

Part of me wants to know that reason. Was I easily replaced? Did I ever mean anything to you, or was I just an easy target for a friend because I was desperate and alone? Are you as conflicted about us drifting apart as I am?

These are questions I will most likely never get the answers to. And the logical part of me knows that that's okay, it's better not to reach out, to leave things as they are. After all, this was probably inevitable.

From the bottom of my heart, I do wish the best for you. I hope you can live out your dreams and find the happiness that Missouri and your friends here couldn't give you. I just ask that you remember my letter. This, like that one, is full of things that I can never say. Instead, I remain silent, pretending that I'm okay.

And I will be. One day, I'll be able to look back on our friendship and the memories that we made with only nostalgia, remembering a good moment in time, instead of feeling guilty or like I should have done something to fix what was irrevocably broken.

So this is for you. And on one last note: I'm sorry. I'm not sorry for doing what I believe was best for me and my mental health by distancing myself from you. I'm sorry if I did something to make you never want to speak to me again. I'm sorry that it couldn't work out, that it just wasn't meant to last. I'm mostly sorry that I didn't tell you any of this, but when I last tried to, it didn't make a difference.

I'm grateful for the friendship that we had in the beginning, and the fond memories that we made during that time. I wish you the best and I hope you do have a happy life.

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