The Overcoming: getting through the most embarrassing moment in my life

The Overcoming

    With a big smile on my face, I left the classroom. It had been a fantastic discussion about whether the government should allow euthanasia or not. I loved the flow of my words and how it contributed well to the whole debate. Then a flash of memory suddenly came to mind as I hopped down the stone steps of the English Building. An experience that had made my face burn red hot and my hands tremble with sweat. Something I do not want to recall, but comes rushing into my brain sometimes.

    I was one of the few second graders (that would be 14 years old) at a Korean Debate Contest a few years ago. I had never been to academies that taught debating skills but was confident that I would do well. However, my firm belief in the ability to speak was painfully shattered into pieces when I encountered the real debate.

    As I stood at the podium, I could feel everyone's eyes on me, their pencils ready to write down every single bit of my speech. I took a long, deep breath, and started to speak. All seemed to go well. But all of a sudden, my words reached a dead end. Nothing came out of my mouth, and I stood wordless and dumb, helplessly watching the equally confused audience. My brain started to empty out everything I had prepared before the debate. Instead, it filled up with imaginary snickerings, smirks of the other kids, and ultimately the thought that I would never even have the chance to attend this school. (The debate contest was held at the high school that I had wanted to attend, and which I am currently attending.) After a minute of perfect silence, I could stammer a few sentences that seemed like broken Lego pieces and finally come back to my seat. What I felt was complete dread.

    What I am writing would have been idealistic if I had instantly learned from that experience and perhaps found out how to speak fluently in a debate, without ever forgetting what I had to say. The reality was far from that. After the debate contest, I could not stop thinking about how I ruined my speech in front of so many people. I kept recalling that precise minute of shame when everyone must have had pity on me. I hated my weak self and even hated the idea of debates. Why couldn't I speak like the others? Why did it have to be me who got a mental shock and learned what devastation is from that contest?

   I had this painful memory buried deep inside my mind for a long while. The sharp ends were hidden, and because I could no longer see them, I decided it was simply not there. Some say that we should not forget what we experience no matter what, and figure out a way to reflect on them. I thought that the moment of reflection did not matter, and that time would heal my wounds and eventually lead me back to the experience hidden deep inside my heart. Becoming a little numb of what had happened did open a lot of chances. The very next year I entered an English debate competition and was not afraid of the chances I might forget my words during my speech. Not being nervous or scared, I successfully finished all of my speeches. I was no longer a helpless kid who feared the mistakes that were not yet made.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

    I know that the experience I wrote down here is not going to be the last embarrassing moment in my life. Big and small happenings always occur, and the moment I can reflect on them and learn a lesson is different for each unique experience. My bad memories about debates are now mostly washed away in the waves of time. I reach down deep inside to feel the sharp edges of the hidden memory, but it is no longer there. Instead, I find new painful and perhaps even more perplexing experiences that are not yet "eroded." Someday they too would become as soft as sand. But I want to say that as experiences get washed away, I also go through changes. I guess going through events, getting hurt from them, and leaving them alone for a while until I recount those experiences is all part of the journey of life. Being embarrassed about who I had been last year certainly plays an important role in making myself an even better person. Who knows? Maybe reflecting on this essay might someday help me write an amazing piece of writing.