My favorite extracurricular activity is the debate team, which I first joined as a high school freshman. I moved to a new school that year and was a shy, withdrawn young girl who wasn't quite sure where I would fit in. My guidance counselor, Ms. Evans, suggested that the debate team might bring me out of my shell and help me to make friends. She had no idea what a monster she was creating.
My first few days on the debate team didn't look promising. I was still painfully shy, and was constantly told to "Speak up" because no one could hear me. I still remember turning beet red with embarrassment when our coach, Dr. Jones, told me I sounded like a guppy who was swimming downstream. Everyone else seemed so confident and self-assured. I didn't really feel that I fit in.
Dr. Jones thought the problem was a lack of conviction.
While I was always well-prepared for the debates, I didn't seem to really care about the topics, making it hard to sway observers to my side. He finally suggested that I personally select the topic for our next debate. The only condition was that that it had to be something I felt passionately about. I chose AIDS awareness.
When we debated the topic the following week , my fellow students thought an alien being had taken over my body. I argued in favor of AIDS education with more fire and energy than they had ever seen. I politely discredited every argument the other side made against my points and had facts to back up my assertions. Long after my teammates were tiring of the subject, I was still smoking.
Dr. Jones approached me after the debate and asked where the enthusaism had come from. I explained to...