College is always described as somewhat of a rollercoaster, full of worldly experiences and nasty lessons and people that come and go from your life. It emulates life in a way that gets you ready for the larger occurrences that you’ll be confronted with in your journey of adulthood, and in Delhi University, you’ll meet diverse people, get exposed to diverse things and learn numerous things. One such experience for me, which I’d call bittersweet in retrospect, was my brushes with debating.

I call them brushes because, even after a year of debating, I don’t feel I’ve delved enough to master it. Public speaking is something else, debating quite another – yet, my introvert self has found both problematic. I’d tried my best to remove my unreasonable fear of public speaking in school, maybe succeeded to an extent of not letting my fright show on my face. But public speaking was always a headache, beyond my reach, and too much anxiety than I could deal with. So when I got to know about the trials for the debating society of our college, I thought I’d pass.

And pass I almost did, until I heard the first round of trials was being held again for those who’d missed. I felt like giving it a random chance – there were three rounds, and in no way was I going to end up being a part of the lucky twenty out of the many who had applied. I did not even want it, not one bit. By the time I qualified for round three, I was praying, it being the only thing I ever wanted in the world. A competition can have that effect on you.

The beginning of the sessions felt like they were easy enough – but the mock debates were completely opposite. I’d underestimated how difficult it could be to come up with a speech, on the spot, with simply arguments in your head, especially when you’re doing it for the first time. My first mock, I could barely speak for three minutes out of the seven which were assigned to me. It was a while before I began hitting the seven minute mark, time still before my speeches began to make sense.

After the first mock debate, I had come out crying, probably determined to leave the society. A year into debating, I’m certainly still not even half as good as the debaters I’ve seen, but I am glad, nonetheless. There’s a sense of rush you get standing there, speaking with all the energy you got, trying to formulate ideas and concepts in your head as they come. The drive feeds you, feeds that desire to debate more and more, and the competition is addictive, if you allow it to be. There were days I debated four times in a day, even after losing in a row, when I adjudicated debates – things I’m proud of in retrospect. There was courage in going ahead and trying even after failing, and I’d never felt more gutsy in my life.

Reader Interactions