I'm ending my three-year hiatus from using this blog. I missed this.
Let me catch you guys up. I know this is going to sound pretty braggadocious, but I want you to know I come from a place of experience and (somewhat?) know what I'm talking about.
After graduating high school as the head student coach and team captain I went on to form my own speech and debate team with a few of my friends. Due to college and one of us getting engaged and jobs and things we couldn't keep up the project, but I was so proud of the work we did and the individual mentoring model we developed.
I took a year off from competing because the university I was at didn't have a team. However, this year I transferred and am already co-captain of my collegiate team and a member of Pi Kappa Delta (collegiate debate honors society). I also discovered IPDA and Model UN. Holla.
I saw a massive shift in my performance and my experience in high school and college. Its true college is very different than high school - it was more than that. I had a year of alumni coaching, judging tournaments, and mulling over what I could have done better.
Now I'm winning trophies and hitting finals and semi-finals: first, second, and third place. I'm not just barely squeaking by into breaking either. Things I only did once in high school.
I admit in high school I wasn't a fantastic debater. Although I qualified for nationals all of my high school years, I always broke very low. I was, to be bluntly honest, one of the worst good debaters. Or a really good bad debater. This isn't mean to put down anyone who didn't do as well as I did - but I wish I had done better. I wish I had known what I do now.
Pride Will Destroy You
I say after I bragged of all of my achievements.
Really though, I spent so much time being angry and proud. Blaming the judges, blaming my competitors, blaming even my own teammates. I worked as hard as I could - but I also refused to acknowledge for a long time there's more than one way to debate. You can probably tell if you've read my old blog posts that I had a hard time accepting other practices or opinions.
I thought there was a "right way" to debate and if you didn't do it my way you were silly or unethical. No matter how many rounds I lost because of it, I was stubborn. And I resented people who were stubbornly attached to their own way of debating - so I was hypocritical. I tended to be resentful and bitter. That was what soured a lot of my debate experiences and ended up causing some drama in my upperclassman years when clashed with other people with similar attitudes.
Tournaments Aren't Social Events
Kicking off your shoes, taking off your jacket, messy eating and loud chatting and talking crap about people is generally a bad idea.
Appearance is Important.
I cringe so hard when I look at my old debate photos. My hair was frizzy and oily and unstyled and probably looked worse due than it did normally due to tournament frazzlement. I didn't figure out how makeup worked until I was an upperclassman. And when I didn't, I didn't wear hardly anything or know what was flattering.
I agree rounds should be won on words and not looks, but if you look like a hobo in a suit or dead then it's hard to look past that. And on very little sleep and no makeup, you look dead. I don't know how guys do it.
The advice I wish I would have gotten: wear the same amount of makeup you would on a stage or close to it. Instagram type stuff. Even guys should consider blush and foundation honestly. Use your dark lipsticks and your highlight. Despite what every overly conservative mom told me growing up it will not make you look like "a prostitute". Cover up your undereye circles. Buy makeup that stays on all day and doesn't smear. If you can handle stilettos, rock those stilettos.
Be that weirdo that carries a mini sewing kit and know a few basic stitches including how to fix a button back on. If you don't have the time to straighten or curl your hair for an hour in the morning, ladies, cut it all off. I did. Use that extra hour of sleep.
Don't have a club lint roller. Everyone has a personal lint roller. Guys are stuck ironing their clothes, but girls if you can find any business apparel that doesn't require it do that. That gives you yet another hour of sleep.
I know I'm acting like I know everything and contradicting my first piece of advice, but please please learn from my mistakes. I never once used an iron all five years of high school competition. I competed with yogurt on my pants and hair on my jacket and bags under my eyes.
Allow me to illustrate.
From left to right, we have me as a freshman, sophomore, and finally as a senior.
And then here we have three photos from tournaments this semester.
Although my hair is still a little gross in the first pic, the cool part I want to point out is that the only piece of clothing in these pics that I've ever needed to iron is the jacket in the first. Plus the fact that I figured out how to make clothes fit and whatnot.
Prep By Yourself
This sort of falls under tournaments not being social events. Every timed you prep in a group in Parli, NPDA, or IPDA or anything else you end up writing down what everyone else is saying instead of thinking of why it makes sense or doesn't. People who aren't following are getting carried through and people who are generating the ideas don't have time to develop them. People feel mad and not listened to. Or you're laughing, being sarcastic, and not being as focused.
Prep by yourself. Take a deep breath. Write out the best case you can, and develop it in the way that makes sense to you. Then if you have time use your last few minutes of prep to swap cases with someone and point out the biggest holes and be prepared to face those arguments.
A well-developed argument that you understand and can explain thoroughly, no matter how weak, is always better than a "good" complex argument you don't understand and isn't even yours - or a stream of excessive statistics.
You Never Have To Argue Something You Don't Believe Yourself
No matter the resolution or the speech prompt -there is always a way to interpret it or expand it to be honest with what you say.
Drama is Completely Pointless
I'm more concerned with getting back to my in-between-rounds coffee and a friendly game of hangman that getting worked up about who was rude to me in a round. I've had more rude things said to me in this semester alone than all five years of high school and...eh. Meh.
I don't even know what the rivalries are. Does our school have rivals? Are there people who don't like me? I genuinely have no idea.
In General, Let Things Roll Off Your Back
Be chill. Angry opponent? You are chill. Didn't break? Chill. Did break? Grateful but chill. Won? Humble but chill. Lost? Going to seriously step up my game - once I get home. For now, admit your mistakes and chill.
If you get panicked in the middle of a speech or debate round because you can feel your points or your favor with the judge slipping out from under you the only thing that's going to fix that is a calm head, a soothing voice, and some diplomatic maneuvering.
Before I had no chill and now chill is all I have left. College is hard.