” debates can bring out the worst in people”
it’s like a truth. i heard it in a casual conversation i was having as i sat in the room for adjudicators awaiting their rounds. as a senior returning to the nationals as a judge it felt so strange. nationals was always more than just a competition. debating was always more than just an after school activity. each had come to take on a life of its own, deep symbolism and dynamics deeply peculiar to itself.
looking back i can see some of the ugly sides of me, my insecurities, my fears, the things i regret connected deeply to me debating career – and more accurately connected to the experiences of going through life, confronting things and growing.
debates brings out the worst in you, it can kill friendship but it ends there only if we let it.
i guess the question then is why is debates so good at giving us a raw insight into ourselves, a snapshot of how people really are like.
first things first, debating isnt debates. debating is a subset of debates. debates involves her community, her politics, her aspirations. theres good and bad all mixed into one and all revealed, accessed and experienced by the individual based on her person.
one reason that experiences connected to it can be so painful is – insecurity.
a common characteristic of many debaters is deep fascination and enjoyment of intellectual things, the nerd things- usually the kind that involves a little bit of aggressiveness and righteousness ( we’re all nice people off the floor, its just a little fun!)
but the darker side of that is wanting to be valued for that, to be respected as a person. maybe we connect too much of our self worth with our abilities to perform- we always do. and its so painful when we fall short – you could say try harder! dont give up! ive tried being optimistic but its not just the disappointment of not performing in an activity sometimes it feels like the disappointment of being yourself.
being able to understand this and understand the insecurities actually at play made things so much easier for me, i found peace and i found a renewed ability to love the sport for what it really is without getting dragged down.
think about the world as a point system. you start from a certain level and build yourself up by proving yourself. it could be proving youre a mature person, a smart person, a responsible citizen.
then think about debates as everyone starts of at a high level, a certain benchmark. if youre a debater, it automatically start of with higher expectations – and then you drop. you drop with mistakes and personal imperfections coming to light. hence my love hate relationship with debating – i love the fun of it , i love that people dont patronise you, i love that people start off treating each other with esteem.
but theres always the other side of the coin huh?