This weekend at Emory was a fun one for me. Oliver and I had a solid prelim record, and then we flew into outrounds. Unfortunately, on Sunday morning, we dropped in dubs. Oliver and I were on our A-game. I fell into a slump for a little while because I couldn’t understand how our opponents won that round. Oliver had never given a summary so good, and I was really cranking up the BDE. It was also a 2-1 decision, making us very close to winning the round, but one judge believed that we just did not make the cut.
After we left room 121, and strolled out into the hallway with our keys, Oliver and I were feeling pretty down in the dumps. Our coaches assured us that they were incredibly proud of our performance, but it still feels uncomfortable to lose rounds that you really should win.
While we were out in the hallway, a woman who had been watching the round approached us, flow in hand, with a semi-disappointed, semi-proud look on her face. She is the mother of another competitor, and has a debate team of her own. She told Oliver and I that she disagreed with the decision of the panel, and that she is so proud of our improvement over the last few months. Her next comment was directed at me, and I don’t think anyone has ever said something so sincere and kind to me in my entire career. She told me that she admires my female strength in round, and is going to teach all of the women on her team to debate just like I do.
Words cannot describe how this compliment felt. Regardless of what happened in the round, I am so proud of how my presence in debate impacts not only other females in debate, but future females as well. When I began my debate career, I never thought I would be able to call myself a role model for other women. Moments like those make me realize how powerful debate can be. Even though I lost the round, the empowerment that I have built into the activity for myself makes it all worth it.
By acknowledging that you are proud of your efforts and you accomplishments, you can make debate a better place for yourself and those around you. I may have lost that round because the judges were not familiar with a dominant female in the room, or they didn’t feel comfortable with me taking the more aggressive position, but I am proud of my performance. Being a role model for other women in debate is something I never dreamed I’d do, but by incorporating those goals and bits of positivity into debate for myself, I made debate a more empowering experience, and that is what really matters.