I remember sitting on my bed in eighth grade with my best friend at the time deciding what classes to take freshman year. Only to decide that we would take debate together, neither of us knowing much about it other than mock debates in history classes. Over that summer we had a falling out and neither of us quite liked the other. We had had a falling out that summer and were no longer friends by he time the school year started. The class was full of strangers and upperclassmen, so we sat together and agreed that we would be debate partners. Throughout that semester we had grown close again and were, as said by our teacher, the best novice debaters of our class. While this inflated my ego it also made me want to live up to that title. To be a Varsity debater and go to huge tournaments like state and regionals where I stood a chance at winning. That is probably what led to the decline of my love for debate.
My debate partner and I had bettered our record at every tournament we attended, never doing worse than the weekend before. Hitting our peak at a tournament at Lawrence High School where we were awarded first place. That night we went out to dinner and celebrated with our moms talking of future plans and how we both love debate and can't wait for another three years. That was how we ended the season too, in love with debate. I think it had given us both a place where we fit in and where there was a competitive atmosphere we thrived in.
The only issue was that our coach taught debates sister class, forensics, and had convinced seven novice debaters to join that class. These same seven, including myself were all under the impression that forensics was the same as debate only in the springtime. None of us knew that we had been wrapped into a semester of acting and speeches. That wasn't the competitive atmosphere I had loved in debate.
It probably sounds dramatic but forensics had nearly ruined debate for us both that year. To have come from a class that had brought us back together and had made us proud of what we had accomplished, and then being asked to do speech or acting events because the “debate” events offered my teacher didnt know how to teach, was something that took us from cloud nine to the floor. I had hated every moment in that class.
While the experience had been so bad in forensics that my partner didn't want to do debate I still convinced her to debate this year with me. Except that all debate tournaments were virtual and that we were in opposite ends of the hybrid schedule. Once again we had fallen from being the best novice debaters to those who couldn't go out to a tournament because everyone else had been taught how to succeed on their own except us.
I think that the biggest thing I learned from debate was how to be myself, it was one of the best experiences I think i’ll ever have. I was taught how to respect others opinions and how to respectfully talk about sensitive issues. That class is also where my love for politics grew, we talked about politics all the time in both freshman and sophomore year. It had given me a classroom that I was always welcomed in.
While this decision is one that I have lost hours of sleepover over, I do think it is time to leave debate. I don’t think the debate style I had loved freshman year exists any more. That is completely okay, leaving something that you loved once upon a time is one of the hardest things people can go through. It is a very tough decision because this one thing had once brought you so much joy but now only brings stress and disappointment. The reason for telling this story is to show that it is okay to leave something if it is not your place anymore, whether that be a sport, activity or even a school. It is okay to do what is best for you and it's okay to be sad about giving up something you loved.