The thought of going back to school sends many waves of emotions—excitement, disappointment, indifference, and other tides. Whether you are a freshman/transfer anticipating extravagant things to happen in a new environment, or a senior counting down the days to graduation, your high school experience holds many stories to be told. And I hope that happens to many of you, because I rarely swam those shores during my four years in high school.
Thinking back on my high school experience made me realize that I did very little to make the most out of it. It was not until my senior year that I started to participate more in extra-curricular activities and interact more with my peers. The majority of my high school career was spent at home studying for APs, working on my writing, and learning dance routines on YouTube.
Stories left untold
Nowhere is there a funny anecdote or crazy adventure I can share with you. Now that I’m in college, I feel that my crazy and funny story has yet to be told. For now, I can only share with you a lesson I wish I learned then: finding your voice.
Admit it, you’ve had at least one moment where you wanted to share a story, but no one seemed to be paying attention. Or you knew the answer to a question asked in class, but maybe it was the wrong one. As a result, you nonchalantly faded into the background.
That happened to me a lot; I rarely contributed to any conversation. The problem was my lack of confidence in speech; I felt that my thoughts and topics of interest would not intrigue my peers. Speaking up is an essential tool for communication. Public speaking, presentations, interviews, and group discussions are mostly introduced in high schools as a way for students to build on their job skills and people skills.
People listen to passion
People will listen to you if the tone of your discourse shows genuine interest. If you’re passionate about a particular subject, you must learn to project that passion in your speech so others can take interest in what you have to say.
An example of not following that directive: I gave a speech on the 1957 obscenity trial of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” in high school. There was controversy over the poem’s literary merit because of the strong language and themes. It fascinated me that a work of literature or art could potentially “harm the public.” Unfortunately, not many people were enthusiastic about an obscene poem. This was mainly due to my poor delivery and inability to keep the audience’s attention.
Finding your voice involves building confidence and engaging people amiably. How do you go about this? Practice is the universal rule for all things, including communication. Talking in front of a mirror is good practice; you will be able to study how you maintain eye contact and how often you use hand gestures.
Another key is listening to what others have to say. Listen to what your peers and teachers have to say to gain multiple perspectives. Finally, be relaxed when you’re talking, especially with an acquaintance. Comfortably discussing your favorite “something” will make the other person listen attentively and feel welcomed.
It’s never too late or too early to find your voice! My advice may not explicitly apply to your academic performance or chances of getting into a top university. But the most important lesson you can learn in high school is how to become a better person. Being able to communicate well has long-term benefits. High school can be the start of your social development; make the most out of it.