These were the thoughts that invaded my mind as I stood upon the stage of Citation 2019, for the humorous speech contest in front of a mind-boggling amount of people.
Well, to know how I ended up here, we first need to go back to September 2019, when I was first introduced to Toastmasters. Having no prior insight on what Toastmasters is, I quickly concluded that it would be a sort of college frat, not a place that piqued my interest at that time. Later on in the week, through some series of coincidence, I found myself attending a Toastmasters meeting held at college. Looking at people get up on the stage and speak struck a chord in me. Especially when I saw Toastmaster Jyoti, who had such an overflowing presence on the stage that made me doubt whether she was just two years older than me.
That is why during the Table Topics session, trembling I raised my hand, some part of me hoping the Table Topics Master would miss me and pick some other person. Unfortunately or fortunately no else raised their hand at that moment. Doomed myself! – that’s how I viewed going up on the stage. It is only later that I realized that going up on the stage is something much more meaningful and an exhilarating experience that would keep me hooked at Toastmasters. I won the first table topic I spoke on! Though I have no recollection of what I spoke on, the only thing I still remember is this mixed sense of nervousness and excitement I had within me during those two minutes.
This is what you could say was the start of my Toastmaster journey. Time and time again, I took part in the meeting held at my college without joining the club itself. I was truthfully content with just occasionally joining the meetings and speaking at the Table Topics session and maybe winning the Table Topic session sometimes. Toastmasters seemed like a huge commitment that I wasn’t willing to take, especially with college just starting. What I didn’t know was the undeniable allure Toastmasters had – meeting after meeting that I attended slowly but undoubtedly was changing me in ways I could not fathom. When Toastmaster Ashmita asked me if I’d like to join the club for the millionth time despite dodging the question, I realized I was already a part of the family. So I joined, officially starting my journey, and oh what fun-filled days were awaiting!
After a particular meeting, while we were having snacks. Toastmaster Sija came up to me and asked whether I’d like to participate in the Humorous Speech Contest. To the just starting out Toastmaster me, when someone like the President of the club came up to me and asked, I was utterly flabbergasted. So in a fit of panic, I blurted out “yes”. Reprimanding myself, I braved on and weathered the fierce storms, also known as the Area Contest, but not without the help and the occasional snarky comments from Toastmaster Prisma!
I bothered Toastmaster Riti and my other fellow Toastmasters to listen to my speech between those 30-minute breaks we had between each class, and they, in turn, annoyed me to work harder when I started slacking off. Finally being able to take part in the Division contest was the result of those experiences. I truly am thankful for everything I went through, but the best part is that all of this is just the beginning. The vast skies of Toastmasters await!
Biraj Gurung, KCM Toastmasters Club
Published in Inkspire Issue 3. Click here for the full newsletter.