Why can’t you be a writer when you grow up?
Have you ever heard of survival dance and sacred dance theory? Neither have I, until just recently. If you love reading, read the whole damn block quote that follows, because it’s amazing. Otherwise, just read what I’ve bolded.
Harley Swift Deer, a Native American teacher, says that each of us has a survival dance and a sacred dance, but the survival dance must come first. Our survival dance, a foundational component of self-reliance, is what we do for a living—our way of supporting ourselves physically and economically. For most people, this means a paid job. For members of a religious community like a monastery, it means social or spiritual labors that contribute to the community’s well-being. For others, it means creating a home and raising children, finding a patron for one’s art, or living as a hunter or gatherer. Everybody has to have a survival dance. Finding and creating one is our first task upon leaving our parents’ or guardians’ home.
Five people I don’t want to become
The overly obsessive with looks
When looks come to dominate everything else that I prioritize in life, I know that something is wrong. I never want to be so concerned with my outward appearance that my focus on this inevitably trades off with the quality of my inward appearance. I’ve said it before, and I shall say it again: these features are fleeting. You look great today, but shit happens: accidents, acne, puberty, and life. So if my bathroom were to ever be crowded with only bottles and sprays and combs and brushes and q-tips, someone slap me please.
The funniest is watching people grasp onto their fading beauty with desperate fingers, because the struggle represents his or her inability to accept an inevitable fate. I really do believe in the idea that the more makeup you cake on, the more you have to hide on the inside. The more you curl or straighten your hair, the more limp it is the next day. We are draining the life out of our bodies to try to fit unrealistic visions of beauty! I want to age gracefully.
The perpetually tired
I understand that part of being a high schooler is waking up grouchy and exhausted, but I desperately want some mornings when I’m genuinely happy to wake up. I want there to not always be days where laziness takes over and priorities are dropped without a thought. Whenever I go many days without proper sleep (like here at debate camp), the disastrous side effects snowball and overwhelm me; a crash is always imminent. I can’t stay awake and I’m forced to down cups of coffee and tea, and the acid from both corrodes my teeth. On the other hand, I’m normally not late or overly-jittery when I get a proper night of sleep.
I don’t want to become obsessed with technology, but I fear that I may be very far down this path already. I spend hours on my computer and my phone; of course, some of this time can be attributed to debate, but I definitely spend more time than is healthy. Additionally, I don’t feel comfortable if I don’t have access to it. I live off of wifi.
I would never allow myself to stay indoors all day and to develop eye, ear, and back problems because of both the overuse and misuse of technology, because none of those issues gives me a reason to live life…
The pure adult
I never want to lose some aspect of my childhood. I feel inspiration and nostalgia from flipping through old photos, and I experience pure happiness when I am confronted with something from my past – a TV show, a novel, or a journal. I don’t want to lose myself in the pressures of getting a job or starting a family or paying bills, and I want to preserve the beautiful period of my life that I appreciated so much.
The one who loses sight of the big picture
My friend once calmed me down about something stupid by playing the game of five. Will some issue matter in 5 days, months, and years? Personal crises virtually disappear when you remember that you have a life that spans more than the 4 years in high school, and that this too shall pass.
Friends are super important. Some you meet early in your life, and some you meet towards the close of a chapter, but what really matters is who stays in your life. People will inevitably leave. Those who stay are those who matter, and I never want to forget these people for others who just come and go. Those who come and go erupt into your life with a bang and leave just as suddenly, and at the end of the day, you will want someone to come and sit down with you in a cafe and talk about life, no pressure.
Specifically, this entails not letting others dictate your life. Your parents, your friends, your significant others and their opinions are not static, and neither are you. But when it comes to making big life decisions, it’s really important to realize that your big picture encompasses just you. If you take life just step by step and don’t create a least a general plan for what you want to make of yourself, then you’ve got nothing to look forward to and no framework to follow; the decisions and epiphanies that you make and experience today affect the person you will be tomorrow, as it pertains to education and occupation.
The Pessimistic Fate of Future Generations
In 50 years, the world will be in chaos.
The nuclear taboo will have be broken, and nuclear weapons will have destroyed the planet. We will finally have suffered the consequences of not taking nuclear threats seriously.
Countries will acquire bio weapons and wreak chemical terror on others. And if scientists are incompetent enough to not know how to create chemical weapons, cyber terrorists will hack our databases and intentionally start conflicts that escalate.
We’re going to run out of space as the population of the world outpaces the space available. It won’t be immediate, but we won’t think anything of it until disaster strikes and the damage is irreversible. By that time, we’ll have stripped all of the green off of the land, and the planet will be a mix of blue and brown. But the blue will be more abundant than the brown; our resource consumption and our CO2 emissions will finally catch up to us, and the resulting climate change will not directly cause extinction, but will cause a rise in sea levels, exacerbating the issue of overpopulation.
We’re going to run out of effective antibiotics, and all of the bacteria will become resistant, eventually allowing a deadly, widespread disease outbreak.
And the polar bears? They’re gonna die. So are all of the tigers and elephants that we’ve been poaching for generations, and overall biodiversity will plummet, and the zoos will be empty soon enough.
Not as though people will want to go to the zoo though. The skies will turn more and more gray and the gas mask industry will prosper, but the overall quality of life will go down. Air pollution won’t kill us all, but we won’t be happy. We won’t have a blue sky to gaze at, and we’ll see fewer stars to wish upon.
Technology? Well, we’re going to develop so many new types of technologies in the coming years that will eventually take over the role of humans. Vending machines replace vendors, and factories and mass production replace handmade goods. While this may be good when you initially think about it, what happens to all of those jobs? My thought is that eventually every role today that requires a person will eventually be replaced by a robot, and that the only new job will be as mechanics and engineers, to fix the robots when they fail, and to create new robots that will fix broken robots.
Increased communication through technology will cause an inability to speak to others in person without feeling extremely awkward, and eventually people will never leave their houses. I mean, why would they need to? You can shop online now. Food delivery is such a commonality, and windows and natural light is overrated anyways.
Computers will be cheaper. People will be less inclined to get out of their chairs and go outside to exercise.
The media will continue to infect our minds with arbitrary and flawed perceptions of beauty. We as a society will become more insecure, prone to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
In 50 years, we won’t know what an apple is. Everything that we eat will come in the form of a vitamin or supplement and everything will be mass-produced and modified by science because our crops are struggling so badly. The quality of meat will decrease, animal abuse will skyrocket, and even the most exclusive and high-class restaurants will serve subpar food.
The people will revert to savagery. We won’t have anything else to do.
And all of those dreams you’ve had as a kid? They won’t exist anymore.
President? The government will revert to anarchy because they won’t be able to solve problems well enough, and the people will mutiny and overthrow the bureaucracy.
Astronaut? Well, space tourism will be such a plausible concept in the next few years that if you’ve got the money and time, you can fly to Mars or a nearby comet for fun. While the role of astronauts won’t become obsolete, the wonder and mystery and prestige that you initially thought to be associated with being an astronaut will cease to exist; you’ll just be one of those people.
And if none of these manages to throw our planet drastically off of its balance, we’ll probably face extinction from threat from a large asteroid slamming into Earth.
*Note: this is a creative writing prompt; I don’t necessarily agree with everything said above.
What It Means to Debate
To debate is to participate in one of the most beneficial activities that young people could ever participate in. We, the future generation of our country, will be comprised of the professional football players and cheerleaders, the innovative scientists, the actors, the playwrights, the occasional Broadway performer, the cosmetic surgeon, the teacher, the soccer coach, and the list could go on and on. But imperative to the future generation are the politicians, presidents, congress people, and even the educated voter that has acquired such knowledge from something such as…policy debate.
Intro to Debate
Policy debate is a fast paced, excruciatingly intense activity that teaches many different skills. As technology becomes increasingly common in our everyday lives, computers, flash drives, and whatnot have transformed the style of debate into something contemporary and high tech. Debaters talk at high speed, the best speaking as rapidly at 400 words per minute (while the average person manages about 100 WPM). My sister, who has never seen a policy debate in her life, tells me that when I ‘spread,’ (speed read) I sound unreasonably mad. I tell her half-jokingly that it’s more passion than anger.
Before I joined our debate club, I was expecting to walk into a room full of smart, intellectual geeks that talked about politics. In some sense, I was correct. But there’s so much more to the debate community! They are passionate people; I was constantly in awe to hear people speak with such enthusiasm in their voice. Each year I have debated, I’ve learned so much about the topics that are chosen. Who would have thought that policy debate could have allowed me to know so much about military withdrawal, space development, and transportation infrastructure? I have a clear idea of how our economy functions, as well as what’s going on in world politics outside of the United States. I’ve become knowledgeable about presidential debates and various bills that go through Congress, and the effect it has on our country. Who would have thought that the entirety of my sophomore year I’d be arguing that it was imperative that the United States invest in an asteroid-detecting survey system because an asteroid collision was the greatest existential risk to humanity?
I’ve learned risk calculus. I can make better decisions, because I can weigh one choice against another. I LOVE IT. I USE THESE SKILLS IN MY CLASSES EACH AND EVERY DAY!
I love the debate community. I am very fortunate to go to a school that is very competitive and involved in policy debate. I’ve always been surrounded by wonderful role models that consistently inspired me to improve and learn more. I was shocked when junior year started and I started advancing to elimination rounds; younger students that had just started debate would ask me questions and look up to me, just like I used to admire the junior and senior debaters when I was a freshman.
But even greater is the relationship between schools. While most maintain secrecy about new strategies and files that are constantly updated between tournaments, debaters have consistently managed to maintain strong friendships. Despite the extremely (and I mean EXTREMELY) intense competition between schools and even within them, the community is able to stay tightly knit because of the inside jokes that no one else in our schools seems to understand. Whether it be about a funny rebuttal speech or an absurd argument test-driven to observe its effectiveness on a judge, non-debaters at my school swear that it sounds like we’re speaking a different language. In a way, it is a private, exclusive form of communication that few people can speak and write in. I’m constantly asked by my peers to “spread,” the same way that someone would ask me to speak a different language; it entertains and intrigues them.
I see this happen on a small scale: debaters that live within one state congregate at parties and have fun. I also observe the astounding relationships that are able to be maintained all over the country! Who would have thought that a high school kid living in Georgia would be able to create wonderful friendships with people from Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Illinois, California, or New Jersey? Perhaps it’s because we are all engrossed in our computers doing research, but we have also become accustomed to emailing, chatting, and video-calling each other. I’ve always feared the possibility of becoming socially awkward when being forced to speak face-to-face with people after spending so much time online, but I feel as though debaters are an exception to this phenomenon. We spend so much of our time eloquently persuading others why our point of view is correct that there isn’t much of a reason to worry.
Just like great relationships that emerge from sports or other extracurricular activities, debate friendships are made to last. From those of us that will grow up to be politicians, diplomats, or ambassadors, or even those that pursue another career but are educated in politics, we won’t look back at our debater days and remember “that one round where we won/lost against that one team on that one argument with that one judge;” chances are, we will remember fondly those who shared those special moments with us. Debaters tend to accept each other for who they are, continually learning new things from each other. It’s more than an extracurricular activity; other after-school activities cannot compare with the lessons we learn and the bonds that we form. It has become a way of life for so many people.
Education and Skill Set
Wow, am I a better public speaker or what? I’ve developed so much in public speaking through the years. My palms don’t sweat as much, my voice doesn’t shake as easily. I can give a final rebuttal with confidence in my tone, which really can set me apart to the judge, when he/she must decide which team was more persuasive.
Now, I’ll rant about the internet. One of the greatest benefits of policy debate is the information that accumulates in your brain over the years, all thanks to the World Wide Web. It’s free, unlimited information that obliterates many of the barriers that certain schools used to face when it came to doing research. While some people live in different regions where the judges can be drastically different, I’ve always remembered a very short but simple quote from Jarod Atchison: “On any given day, anyone can win.” The sole purpose of this activity is to convince the judge, not dispute the other team. When it comes down to it, the ultimate speech stems from all the confidence and knowledge you’ve acquired from camp, debate practices, and other debate rounds. I think that a good debater should be able to adapt to whatever the judge has ideologically engraved in their mind.
Disadvantages to Consider
On the other hand, whilst I love the activity with all my heart and soul, there are obvious disadvantages to pursuing such an activity. I can think of one major setback: the time commitment. Oh man, does this activity grant me so many sleepless nights! I finish my homework at 11 PM some nights, glance at the block, and mentally ask myself: Sleep, or debate work? The answer is the same every time: Debate, duh. If you want to be a good debater, you can’t expect to have the skills and information innately. I’m sure colleges will be taken back when a resume portrays four years of hardcore debate, but they probably wouldn’t expect you to provide much more in other extracurriculars if you were truly invested. Debate is the single most time-consuming activity you will ever know. Some people start at zero ground, knowing nothing about the topic. Some people might start at negative ground, disadvantaged by lack of funding, strange geographic funding, etc. But no matter where you start, there is ALWAYS the possibility of ending up at the same place as any other team, even the most prestigious team in the nation. The only thing standing in your way is the question: do you want it badly enough?
One last question to ask: Do you have the passion? If you’re doing debate simply for the opportunity to put it on your college apps, go sulk in a corner and rethink your decision. If you’re doing it because you don’t KNOW whether or not you have the passion, then I salute you! Whatever the future has in store, good luck. Whatever happens, happens. Being passionate about debate is crucial to bring you above and beyond. You can transform from this technical-debating robot that wins some debates by simply making more arguments than the other team into an emotionally wax-poetic lunatic that tugs on the judge’s heartstrings, allowing them to ponder the debate works. This is how to acquire the highest speaker points! This is how you earn your reputation in debate as being extremely persuasive.
I’m getting old. Wow, 16? Where have the years gone? The transition from trick or treating and getting tired at 11 PM to never sleeping before midnight and having my backpack weigh 70 pounds has been shaky, to say the least. My innocence slipped out the door in seventh grade when I asked my friends what a virgin was. I remember the first time I actually listened to a radio station besides NPR – 6th grade. I remember the first time I tried to put on mascara – I got an eye infection. In elementary school, my mom literally had to put on my clothes for me as a sleepy-eyed 8 year old Catherine complained of drowsiness from only 9 hours of sleep. I remember all my teachers since pre-school, and I remember the first book that was ever read to me – the Boxcar Children.
Now, I’m in high school. The days literally go buy 20 times faster than they used to. I can put on makeup without a mirror, I can survive with 4 hours of sleep. I can accept the fact that I can’t fit into my 7th grade jeans and that I can never be the kid at summer camp again, only the counselor (except for maybe next summer). No longer is my bookshelf filled with the “A to Z Mysteries” series and Mrs. Pigglewiggle books, but rather, SAT workbooks and old textbooks. The most exciting reads I have time to read include Jane Eyre (which is actually somewhat interesting) and my AP Euro book (which I like to read sometimes, because knowing the background and development of current day events is beneficial).
I’m never going to be that young ever again. From now on, I’m only going to have to shoulder more responsibilities. One day, I might be responsible for someone else’s life besides my own. I’m going to have to read the news and understand what the 2016 presidential candidates advocate to fulfill my role as an informed voter. There are so many laws and policies that I’m unaware of, and if I make a mistake, I don’t have the excuse of not being aware of consequences anymore.
I don’t like getting old, because I think life will only get harder as I continue aging. But I also want to get older because while I will have more burdens, I’ll also have more opportunities. With each birthday, I get more privileges that I envied as a child. I can drive! I can watch PG-13 movies! I can eat sample at Costco without my mom’s approval! Soon, I’ll be able to vote, drink, smoke, get into R-rated movies, and I’ll be eligible to get a job, and make my own money. Soon, I will be able to order products from infomercials without my dad telling me it’s a stupid investment, because I know it will be. I’ll just be swayed by the infomercial.
I’ll mature. I’ll find out more about the world as I travel to more places. I’ll meet better people that tell me wiser things and help me make more educated decisions. My friends will encourage me to do what I love. Perhaps someday, I will have the chance to be the teacher instead of the student, even though I’m learning something new every day. Maybe I’ll become a role model instead of the one admiring my hero. And maybe, I’ll finally find out WHAT I’m meant to do, who I’m meant to be.
But for now, I’m still relatively young. I’m older, but that’s not such a tragedy anymore.