Debating was my one true love. I had never been passionate about anything in life prior to it. The logic underlying every argument with just the right mix of emotions was a delicate balance to achieve. But when you did, you felt this rush of happiness that many haven’t experienced in their lifetime. I wasn’t an excellent debater. I did not win international tournaments like many of my counterparts did. But the activity fulfilled my desire for finding a passion which was independent of failures or victories as well the judgement of others. This statement is ironic because debating success was usually gauged by the number of wins you had on your resume and that was primarily dependent on the judgement of the adjudicator.
But anyone who has loved debating will know what I am talking about. Reading latest news during classes and forming a potentially brilliant argument in your head gave you a high which can’t be compared to anything else, not even a win.
But tangible victories did matter, at least in terms of access to the activity. I didn’t have this success for the longest time due to a variety of reasons,mostly because debate success required strategy, something that I have never prioritized in my entire life. I am old school in my belief that if you love something truly enough, you don’t require strategies to win. Just hard work will suffice. This belief paid off in the end. It was as if the stars had aligned to ensure that my three years of perseverance finally paid off in my last year of college. Winning every round was almost a cakewalk, especially since I had an amazing partner (and now a dear friend) who,by the way, is half a decade younger to me. My teammate , the motions, the competition, everything was amazing.
Most importantly, the story was perfect. Unconditional love for the activity, promise of fulfillment, pain of feeling inadequate and incompetent at it and then the joy of redemption in my last year of college.
This story is something that will remain with me throughout my life. Even though I am struggling with anxiety on a daily basis, this story is what keeps me going. Because even when logic dictated that I should give up on an activity which was barely yielding any results, I didn’t. Not because I wanted to prove my intellectual supremacy or gain a reputation among the so-called famous debaters(God knows networking with anyone is a painful task for introverts) but simply because I didn’t care about anything other than my happiness when I debated.
It was because of the simplest but most underestimated reason of all. Love. You can’t have the courage to fight for something you don’t love. You can’t bear the judgement of others when you fail if your love for something doesn’t motivate you to go out and face the world again.
I love debating. Even now, I love picking up an article on econ or international affairs and googling a thousand terms to familiarize myself with concepts that seem alien to me.
I haven’t found anything that has sparked the same love in me (yes a Mary Kondo reference) since I stopped debating. But that doesn’t mean that the experience was worthless. Because I no longer settle for things out of the fear of being left behind. Giving up on choices that would ascertain a comfortable degree of success has become easier because I know the joy of striving for goals, which are difficult to achieve , can bring you.
My experience has taught me that this is the part where everything keeps getting tough, this is the part where you want to quit and opt for easy options for transitory respite. But you can’t, sweetheart , if you love a good story. The happy part is yet to come, when you will just look back and marvel at your own resilience.So till then it is my hope, both for myself and everyone else, that the process of finding a pursuit worthy of being completely dedicated to is what will give us the strength to face the judgement of the world.