Last month, the chairman of our English Department, Ma’am Berna assigned me to coach a student for the Division English Camp – Extemporaneous Speech Contest. To my surprise, along with the coaching assignment she also assigned me as the school’s representative for the same contest for teacher’s edition. Like what I said in my previous blog, I was jokingly wishing that I’d love to join the Division Camp this year, but not as serious as joining as both a coach and a contestant. Indeed, the burden that has lain in me was too heavy to carry.
The coaching part has somewhat ran very smoothly. Although we faced a minor problem along the way, our school’s contestant Jewel managed to win 5th place in the contest. Her victory is a testimony that everything is possible through the help of God. Here’s the part of the story.
While the coaching and training for my contestant was manageable, my own preparation for the contest was a lot harder. I had to face 5 important truths.
#1 I had to overcome my stage fright.
Many people admire me in speaking in public, but what they really don’t know is that I am always afraid when I speak in front of a lot of people. Yes, I did speak in a lot of seminars, trainings, and other gatherings. I even hosted the 2015 graduation rites in Ynares Center, a venue for huge crowd and is commonly used by Showtime for anniversary and TV specials. Speaking in the Extemporaneous Contest for Teachers was a bit challenging for me because of my fear of public speaking.
#2 During my preparation, I had to endure a lot of pain.
Amidst the sea of things to accomplish, I was struck by a lot of pains. The last two months of 2016 were probably among the busiest months for me this year, and getting sick along the way made doing my tasks a lot graver. Imagine me, drinking a lot of medicines, vitamins, and other natural treatment just to sustain my sickness. I had to blow my nose every after 3 minutes, and I wept silently for my growing wisdom tooth. Indeed, enduring physical pain made my preparation the hardest. This is how I faced my pains.
#3 I was too stiff.
I really didn’t want to practice in front of my colleagues, especially my friends; but one day, I just gave up, and I asked my friends to watch my contestant and me as we performed different topics for extemporaneous speaking. I had to admit that I agree with my friends. I was too stiff as I talk. I slouched a lot, and I was not very pleasing to watch because of my posture.
#4 I was not ready.
The last minute practices revealed that I was not ready to compete. I stuttered and bluffed in almost all my speeches two days before the contest. There were a lot of incoherence in my thoughts, and I myself was totally frightened. If I’d present the way I spoke in the rehearsal. I’d really lose in the contest. In short, I talked nonsense. Although I was not ready, I still did not practice in the entire day of the 30th of November even if it’s a holiday. Instead, my family and I pushed through my early birthday celebration in Greenbelt, Makati. Imagine the traveling and eating time that I spent instead of using the time for my rehearsals. When we came home, I still didn’t practice. I just doze for I can’t remember anymore how long I lay on my bed.
#5 I was too scared on the day of the contest proper.
A lot of people (my friends and students) kept on asking me if I was okay. Earlier that morning, I tried to say I was okay. Later on, I couldn’t hide my true feelings anymore, and I admitted that I was not. Many of them noticed it, and they tried to encourage me. Even if I ate two pandesals with hotdogs, I still felt afraid of what was going to happen. I felt like my energy was evaporating. My physical appearance was really gloomy.
So how did I make it?
I prayed for and with my contestant Jewel in the holding area. I also asked a colleague to pray for me in the contest. With all the sleepless nights (fearing about the contest day itself to come), I couldn’t attain to mess it up for everything will come to waste. Little by little, I tried to swallow a lot of courage in order to dispose all the fears and apprehension I had at that moment. Seriously, it’s hard to face and overcome our own Goliath, but doing so would mean liberation and would result to victory.
I patiently waited for two hours before our contest came. I was the 7th contestant, so I was able to relax even for a while. While waiting, I tried to converse with my fellow contestants. Like me, they also felt the same pressure and thrill, making me realize that I was not the only one in this battle. I realized that my opponents were not these other teachers, but my greatest opponent was myself. Although I heard two of them rehearse their speech and their diction was really intimidating, I breathed deeply, and I made sure that I’d give my best.
The other contestants did not leak the topic, but they gave us clue that the topic was too easy to develop. When it was my turn, I realized that they’re right. After the contest, I realized that God answered my prayer again. In my rehearsals, I tried to talk about reading, teaching, and English, but I prayed to God that I’d rather have teaching as the topic. Indeed, He answered my prayer. The topic was “When I see my students, I see unlimited possibilities.” –Anonymous. With that, I tried to outline mentally the things I’d say.
Before my speech, my colleagues and some familiar faces stayed in the audience. Before I went to the holding room, I told them to leave because I might get distracted, but they did not leave. When I delivered my speech, however, they did not upset me but I felt motivated to deliver my speech even more especially that the topic was something I love – teaching students.
I just did my job and delivered my topic as passionately as I can. Thank God! I won the first place. I got a certificate and a monetary prize. Seriously, it’s hard to win in that competition because my other competitors were really great, and I am not a professional extemporaneous speaker. I believe that apart from what I did, I owe my victory to God who gave all the favors since I started preparing for the contest. I owe it too to my friends, colleagues, and students who patiently sat with me and giving sincere comments for my improvement.
After the contest, I was happy not only because I won, but I was totally healed. I just remembered that my wisdom tooth doesn’t ache anymore, and I no longer have my sore throat and colds. Indeed, it’s a December to remember. Where is the ice cream?