You always remember your very first time when you stood in front of an audience and delivered a speech. It’s the time when you come out of your shell and the inhibition and gain an experience of trying something new which is beyond your comfort zone.
Something similar happened to me when I was standing on the dice in a room with people who were expecting me to speak and mark me accordingly. But instead, something very incomprehensible happened with me at that very moment which of course will remain with me as a memory for the rest of my life.
This was the time when we became aware of the fact that we have been selected to go and represent our college in 10th Chanakya National Law University, Parliamentary Debate.
I was overjoyed and extremely happy about it as this was going to be my first national tournament ever. Though it was my first time, I still had high expectations of me because there was a reason why I had been selected among those 12 students to represent our university. We had a team of 4 where I was the adjudicator. So off we went to Patna.
Been living in the hills for most of my life, Patna was a completely new experience for me. We had an amazing (though somewhat exhausting) journey through train where all of us, juniors and seniors alike, got to know each other very well.
On reaching there we were accommodated in the girls and boys hostel respectively. The campus was beautiful and the hospitality of the CNLU students, unbelievable.
The kind of vigour and enthusiasm they showed while receiving us even at 5 in the morning was admirable and extraordinary.
Thereafter began the competition starting with the adjucation test where I performed satisfactorily and became a trainee instead. I was disappointed but still went on with the first round halfheartedly. The trainees along with other adjs. were supposed to give the feedback to the teams after the debate.
I gave mine, which was okay, but nothing in comparison to other experienced adjudicators. I was a novice as compared to them. Looking at them standing there and speaking with such calmness and at the same time with such efficiency and spontaneity made me realize that I had a long way to go.
The second round discouraged me further still as when it was my turn to stand on the dice and speak, I flustered. I broke out in a cold sweat when I couldn’t summon my voice to speak. My body refused to comply with my demands and I stood there dumbstruck.
Everyone was waiting patiently rather exhaustingly for me to give them my feedback. I could feel everybody’s eyes boring into me as I stood there silently going through my ‘not very helpful’ notes.
Slowly, in a rather feeble voice, I started speaking and as soon as I was done, I hastily went off the dice and out of the judging eyes of the spectators. It was worse than a nightmare.
This incident brought down my confidence notably and lowered my morale to a great measure. By the time I came out of the room, I was completely engulfed with humiliation and embarrassment.
It was the last round of the day and thus dinner was being served after this. I didn’t bother. I straightway went to my room and sat in the balcony overplaying the incident in my head for a long time.
The more I thought about it the more I realized that I wasn’t competent enough to speak before these people. Sometime later that night I went to sleep.
Next day we had three more rounds but the incident of the previous night had left me drained of any enthusiasm or fervour. I went to the moot courtroom where everyone was supposed to assemble for the releasing of the tabs for the next round.
Meanwhile, I met a co-adjudicator who was present in the room with me the previous day and was well versed with my vulnerable condition. I asked him to guide me a little for the next round of adjudication.
He was courteous enough to help me and give me some quick tips and specifically told me that there’s nothing to be nervous about and that one just has to go and speak whatever he/she understands about the debate and which side was conclusive enough to convince him/her as an adj. for or against the motion respectively.
This gave me a sense of relief, knowing that even after what happened yesterday, he didn’t think of me any less and instead helped me out.
My next round of adjudication was of NUJS 8 v/s NUS with a J ( two teams from West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences). Little did I know that these were some of the best debaters of the tournament?
As I sat there listening to their debate, I realized that it was beyond my comprehension. I couldn’t understand most of it; the examples cited by them; the terms used; baffled and perplexed me considerably. The image of yesterday came rushing to me but this time it didn’t scare me as much.
I sat there listening intently, hardly taking down any notes and peeking glances at the Chairperson who was busy filling sheets of paper with lightning fast speed. This unnerved me a little as it would be my turn to give them the feedback after they were done speaking.
As my turn came, I once again stood on the dice. Having not understood one bit of the debate, I struggled to speak, yet again.
I went through my notes, which would hardly qualify as notes for that matter, looked at the 2 teams sitting before me, who were waiting for me to speak and mark me accordingly.
Then in a very calm voice, I stated the verdict of the debate (which surprisingly, as I later came to know was correct) and told them that I don’t think I am in a position to give them feedback as I didn’t understand most of their debate.
One of them told me that this would obviously reflect in my mark sheet, to which I calmly replied that I don’t mind. I was shocked by the calm in my voice with which I stood before such qualified teams and said these words.
I wasn’t shaking with fear this time and found my words with much ease, and was calm and composed. With this, I got off the dice and went out of the room.
I had accepted my defeat, my shortcomings, and inability. I no longer was worried about the outcome of my actions or where will they land me in the final score sheet.
I had gained experience and a very powerful one, which brought me face to face with my shortcomings and imperfections, which showed me that I had a lot to learn right now and I cannot compare myself to these best debaters and adjudicators yet.
I had a long way to go, had a lot to learn on my way. This debating experience made me explore a completely different side of me.
Though I had performed wretchedly in almost every round I somehow felt more confident about myself after this incident. It actually made me realize that failure in life teaches you more than winning ever can.
It actually makes you stand before a mirror and accept your inabilities and inhibitions. When you accept your defeat, you accept your weaknesses, and only when you take a step towards making yourself better and improved version of yourself.
It is rightly said that in order to win you have to lose first.
The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly.
All in all, it was one hell of an experience where exhilaration, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment was all endured by me at the same time.
I will forever remember this first ever debating experience of my life. Thinking about it now, however, gives me immense joy and motivates me to improve and enhance myself for upcoming such debates and perform to my fullest of abilities.