Thursday, October 13, 2011

Speaking Up

I dislike public speaking-in fact, I despise it.  I am extremely shy around others, to the point where I am painfully quiet.  I also get panic attacks, which doesn't help at all.

In high school, I joined Model UN, which involved speaking in front of large groups of people.  Oh, it also involved doing research or something about the policies of the countries you were assigned, but I could have cared less about it.  I didn't give a damn about Model UN either, except for the fact that it got me out of school.  I spent quite a few school days (and a few weekends) in various hotels, and that was cool.

For those of you unfamiliar with Model UN (United Nations), each school is assigned a country or two as well as topics that will be debated.  You are supposed to research your countries' stance on said topics and pretty much present and argue that viewpoint with other countries.  You can meet up with other kids who have countries that share your views and make resolutions to the problems with them.  It's pretty much a weekend full of kids pretending to be diplomats.  It was always really fun for me to watch heated debates.  I never participated in said debates.

Usually, our school was assigned unimportant countries like Djibouti (we always asked to be Djibouti-saying it still cracks me up).  However, when we went to a conference at the Naval Academy, we were assigned France and Mali.  I was actually kind of excited, because France had veto power on the Security Council.  So I jumped on it immediately with my friend (the girl who did the research for every model UN conference because she actually cared).

It was also awesome because my friend was a cadet at the Naval Academy at the time, so I got permission from my parents to spend some time with him instead of being stuck with my classmates and teacher the entire weekend.  We went to an awesome seafood restaurant with some other cadets and I gorged on crab.  It was great.

Anyway, since I was on the security council, it was a small group.  There were 1-2 kids representing each country, and less than 30 people in total in our conference room (which was also the nicest room I've ever done a model UN conference in-the Naval Academy knew how to hook us up).

Oh, and I forgot to mention another perk of the security council-at one point during the conference we would be presented with an emergency that we had to get together to solve.  Usually, it would happen in the middle of the night.  Unfortunately, our school was in a different hotel than everyone else, so it happened in the late evening, before we were supposed to go to the hotel.

I actually wanted to speak up at this conference.  I was excited we got a major country to represent, and only the cream of the crop was allowed to be on the Security Council.  I was totally prepared to get my debate on.

And then one of the kids who was Mali left to help someone out at the WHO (World Health Organization-yeah, we really pretended to be all parts of the United Nations for a weekend).  The kid who was left had never been to a conference before, so I told him to go with my partner as France and I would handle Mali.  It didn't take me long to brush up on Mali's policy, and I ran with it.  I did awesome.

I've always been good at debating when I put my mind to it.  I lose my shyness and become another person.  An incredibly aggressive and ruthless person who will destroy anyone with an opposing viewpoint.  I can point out fault with anything in order to prove that I am right and you are wrong.  This skill doesn't come in handy in real life-maybe I should have been a lawyer or something.

I spoke up constantly all weekend.  I jumped back and forth between France (since I had prepared for it) and Mali and made almost all the speeches for both countries.  I wasn't supposed to, but like I said, there were only 30-ish people in the room and they didn't want to argue with me (I would have totally won if they tried).

Needless to say, I kicked butt at this conference.  I even got an award at the end.  It was pretty much the only Model UN conference I spoke at, even though I did Model UN for 3 years.  I think I was less intimidated by the small group.  Usually, in the general assembly, there are hundreds of kids in an auditorium, which is like my worst nightmare.

Since then, I still have trouble with public speaking, but not debating.  I learned that weekend that I am awesome at debating.  I can keep my cool, get my point across, and refute anything that someone throws at me.  This is not true in life.  If I am not prepared to be confronted, even a semi-mean comments sends me into tears.  I can't really figure out what is so different that I am okay in one situation and not in another.   But I do know that no one can beat me in a debate.
This post was written in response to one of this week's prompts from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.  I chose 3.)Speech!! Tell about a time you had to speak or present in front of a group of people.  So I wrote about speaking for the first time at Model UN, which I really enjoyed throughout high school (even though I joined for the wrong reasons).
Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. I understand the fear of public speaking...i'm taking a speech class right now....thos 5 or 6 minutes at the podium seem like forever

    hi from mk's

  2. I hate public speaking, too. I tend to go on and on and I know that I am doing it but I can't stop.

    Naval Academy? Wow! Did you get to see the tomb of John Paul Jones?

  3. Thank you both for your comments! @SisterSister-it does always seem like forever! Time really does slow down when you're in front of a group of people! @Not Just Another Mother Blogger!-I have definitely had my moments where I rambled on and on. I always do that when I'm really nervous. No, I didn't see the tomb, but the Naval Academy campus is beautiful, and I think we got to see a lot more of it than most civilians see.