First Toastmasters Speech - Me

September 26, 2017   11 minute read

A Toastmaster’s speaking experience begins with their Competent Communication 1 (CC1) speech, also known as The Ice Breaker Speech. This is mine.

Hi everyone, nice to see all of you again. My name is Waqas and the next six minutes are all about me, something which a public speaker should never do.

So let’s get this started, when I was growing up, my father and grandfather always used to say how a big genius I am and how I am meant to do great things in life. And living in a small town, I used to think the world is small and maybe I can handle it and indeed do something big. I used to think I am the best and was a bit envious of other successful people be it the famous ones or the people around me.

As I knew more about the great people, I started to emulate them.

When I came to know about David Beckham I thought I can be like him, so I started to practice my football freekicks and longshots a lot. When I came to know about Zuckerburg, I tried to learn more about technology. When I came to know about Steve Jobs, I tried to emulate his public-speaking. That’s how I developed my interests.

But as I grew up and in my late teens (around three years ago), when I started to go out of my town and country (Pakistan), when I read books like the outliers and tipping point by Malcom Gladwell, I realized that there is no such thing as being great, as being the best. I am not the best and I am not center. One just does something specfic at sometime specific and they become great and most of the times they don’t do it to become great.

Around that time, I was watching this documentary called “Cosmos” by Neil Degrasse Tyson and in one of the episodes he was talking about and I quite “how like many of us start to realize growing up that we are not the center of the world, the people of the earth started to realize that the earth is not the center.”

I immediately stopped the documentary and it was at that moment I realized that you know Neil knew it, so it’s not only me who has these thoughts. So i started googling this. And I came upon this beautiful website. On that there was a word called “sonder”. Sonder means the realization that everyone of us is leading a life as complex as ours and that we are not the center.

To keep this story alive, I won’t tell you that website just now. Let’s keep this dictionary at a side and we will come back to it.

Let’s talk about today. So a few hours ago, being basic I was sitting in starbucks typing on my laptop. I was brainstorming about this speech. I started off with the strategy of you know just telling about my interests but I thought it would be too shallow and I wouldn’t even get close to the other great speakers here. Then I thought maybe I can tell you guys what I did over the past four weekends (the list of which includes 36 hour non stop coding at a hackathon, trying out something new like Ultimate Frisbee, going to a tram party, hiking, football tryouts and big buddha) which may reflect a bit richer outlook of me.

But then I thought okay, instead of telling you what I am interested in or what I like to do, I will tell you the process of thinking about my speech so I can also implement my simple ideas (which I just did and I am doing rn).

But then I thought nah I need to get away from defining myself as myself up till today (you know version 20, I am 20 years now). I don’t even know who I am and I dont want to limit myself, so how and why should I describe myself. I realized what I want to say is too obscure (which means not clear).

So i remembered that website again. Its called the dictionary of obscure sorrows. And then I thought what a better way to structure myself, to structure one of the six billion obscure selves that is me than taking a bit of a help from there. As I was scrolling, I found these amazing words like opia, the amazing abiguous intensity of eye contact, like flashover, the moment when a conversation gets real and alive. But as I scrolled more and more, I found the words which describe me perfectly. So three things:

In the past, because I was a perfectionist, I had a fear of meantime: the realization that the perfect version of myself isnt ever going to show up in the future, that maybe I am never going to be that good.

I had paro, the feeling that what I am doing right now isn’t perfect. Maybe there is a better move on the chess board I can play. Maybe I should read that entire book on app development and then start to make a app. Maybe I should get that DSLR before trying photography. Maybe reading all about public speaking before public speaking. Maybe I should do a speech before evaluating.

Now though it’s different. Now I want liberosis - the desire to care less about things—to loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone—rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play. To forget about perfectionism.

But its not a happy ending, I still have one more word. onism: the awareness of how little of the world I am going to experience. Like standing in front of the airport departure list and seeing some of those cities I am never going to go. Like standing in the library and seeing those thousands of books you will never read. All the experiences I will never have. That is why I am up for new things all the time. That is why it is also difficult for me to answer questions as what are my favourite things. And that is why I am up for challenges like speaking without a script so I can find something more about myself.

This was an imperfect attempt at describing myself but I happy with it. I hope that now you know a bit more about me.