Living Flashback

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of judging a high school speech competition. Holy flashbacks, Batman.

Speech Team

(That is me in center – the girl in the white shirt on the left.)

It was wonderful seeing the competitors arrive, full of energy and excitement. As we walked to the judges’ room, my heart swelled as I saw the most quintessential sight of any tournament: students talking to trees. Suddenly I was 16 again and upset when someone had already claimed my favorite practice tree.

The judges’ room was packed before they started assigning the rounds. Group by group ballots were assigned and went out. My name wasn’t called for round one. It was disappointing, but I had come prepared, notebook in hand. I wrote the beginning of this post and did some work on my novel.

I was called to judge the next three rounds in a row. The first two were for novice speakers, those who only started competing this year. With it being so early in the competition schedule, I was giving advice on how to strengthen their speeches and delivery – the types of comments I was craving as a competitor. I was not going to be one of those judges that writes only “excellent speech” and then ranks the speaker as 4th and Good. Instead I told them how to be better.

One thing I didn’t understand as a competitor and shocked me as a judge at this recent competition is that I found myself either liking or being turned off by the speakers based solely on their presentations. I knew nothing about their personalities, but some I thought I would have been friends with when I was in high school and others were the mean girls (or boys) that I would have avoided like the plague. Now I’m wondering where on that scale High School Tammy would have been placed.

I am so glad I was able to volunteer in this version of the Way Back machine. I’ll definitely do it again in the future.

Have you ever returned to a youthful interest? or What past experiences do you have that shape your current behaviors?