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.