Don’t Cry Over Split Atoms

About seven seconds into my speech, the only thought that was running through my head was, “Amy, slow down.”

I was doing it again. I was speeding up and going ahead and getting lost with what I was saying. I don’t remember what I said, if I faltered, if I sturrered. I only remember that I went too fast. This speech was really important to me. It was on a topic that I find really interesting, I was actually pretty happy with what I had written for the speech itself, I enjoy public speaking, and I felt like I had a whole bunch of pressure on myself to do well at this. And I bottled it.

When Ms. Madsen told us that our final keystone for The Manhattan Project Project was a persuasive speech, there were mixed reactions from the class. Some people were excited, some groaned. I was one of the excited ones. I didn’t know a lot about the Manhattan Project, but I knew enough to know that I found it interesting. I also knew that I was comfortable with public speaking, and that I would enjoy that part as well. If anything, I was a bit too comfortable with this project. It was new content, and a new speaking experience, but I still felt okay with it. It felt safe for me.

  • Keystone #1

I did learn a lot about the Manhattan Project itself in this project as well. I liked how Ms. Madsen started us off by talking about how brutal the war in the pacific actually got. I have often found that we learn about war from the perspective of those closest to us, those who are the same as us, and those who we can relate to. It was an interesting perspective switch to learn about the war not only in a different location, but also from an entirely new lens. The war in the pacific is such an interesting and horrifying mix of warfare, tradition, and morals, and learning about what was happening in Japan before the atom bomb dropped definitely helped me look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki with more background knowledge and a better understanding.

When we started getting into the actual speech, I was super excited. Ms. Madsen is a really talented public speaker, and she had some really helpful tips for writing and speaking the speech itself. I knew from past public speaking experiences that I had a really really horribly awfully bad habit of speeding up when I talk. Just to preface this, I am a fast talker. Like a melt-your-ear-off, YouTube-videos-sped-up, words-blending-together type of fast talker. I remember that my grade seven teacher once told me that if it didn’t sound like I was talking exasperatingly slowly, I was talking to fast. Every single time that I practiced my speech, I kept that in mind. I did every single thing that I possibly could to make myself slow down. All of my practices went relatively smoothly, and I felt pretty okay on the day of my actual speech.

*For dramatic effect, please imagine this next part in a dramatic slow motion movie montage. Think Kill Bill, The Avengers, Zoolander style.*

I got up to the podium, and started my speech. I was about halfway through my first sentence when I realized that I was going too fast. And I could not slow down. I did my entire speech at a melt-your-ear-off, YouTube-videos-sped-up, words-blending-together level of fast talking. It was not a very positive experience for me. I was actually pretty happy with what I had written for the speech itself. I thought that I did quite a good job with my parallel structure, rhetoric, and figurative language. Hypothetically, it should have been a very good speech. It wasn’t. And surprisingly, I am okay with that.

Okay, fine. Not okay with it. But I have come to terms with it. If I didn’t mess up on my speech, I genuinely don’t think that I would have taken a risk with this. I am taking a risk right now, as I am writing this. My speech could have gone so many different ways, however, it didn’t go in the exact way that I wanted it to. And I am writing about it. I don’t feel that I showed my best work with my speech. If I could do it again, I 10000% would. But I am also glad that I messed up. I am glad that I know that I have room to grow. I am glad that I can allow myself to view what could be a fail as just that, a First Attempt in Learning. I am glad that I was able to communicate my ideas in Socratic Seminars, and book discussions. I am glad that I had conversations with others about ethics, and morals. And above all, I am glad that my paradigm has expanded.


(Next time I will slow down. I promise.)

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