Ever more than proving I am right,

Ever since I was a child, my parents have told me that
I would make an excellent lawyer. It took me many years till I realized that it
was their way of saying that I’m extremely argumentative. Come to think of it,
throughout my childhood, numerous people have told me how confrontational I am.
To this day I don’t know how I came to be this way, but to take a wild guess
I’d say it’s because I love the way speaking
makes me feel. I love knowing exactly how to answer an opponent’s question. I
love the exhaustion that comes after debating five rounds in one day and I love
watching new debaters progress and improve. So, I spend three nights a week
practicing before a debate and I give up my weekends to attend tournaments. I
grab coffee with apprentices when I ought to be doing something else, and I
volunteer my services as a referee in my friend’s arguments for nothing but
good conversation. Debate consumes my life, because I love it, and loving it
drives me to trail brilliance. I believe that If you want to be good at
something, you need to fall in love with it first.

Most people follow a passion which
they love unconditionally, but my passion for speaking is very conditional. To
me debating means more than wining, it means more than proving I am right, to
me it means exhausting all resources until my opponent sees the better side of
the argument. I want to speak about everything, from why I think Shakespeare is
not the great English poet, to how the human body betrays itself in times of
illness. I believe that if you want to prove something, debating is the way to
do it, and in my love for speaking, the thing I’ve learned is that if you are
any bit different in this world, one thing you need to know how to do, and do
well, is speak. I’ve learned this first hand, being a minority and no less a
girl in the society I grew up in, I knew when injustice was happening it was
either speak then or hold your peace forever. My confrontational streak I
believe comes from growing up in a large immigrant family. Most of my relatives
including my grandparents are very orthodox. To them women working after
marriage is not acceptable, neither is stating your opinion in front of elders
no matter how relevant it is, or accepting a career besides Medicine, Law or Engineering.
These restrictions are so pressing to the point where every time I state my
desire to become a doctor, people assume I chose it because my parents wanted
me to, but the truth is that the human body fascinates me. I want to know
everything about it, I want to know how a person lives without a kidney and how
doctors can keep a person living after taking out they’re heart during a heart
transplant. I have always contradicted my relatives in their orthodox views,
which is why they have always considered me to be the rebel of the family.

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To me debating is like combat, with
words as your weapons. I remember this one time during a family gathering, my
parents, siblings and the rest of the extended family were all huddled around
the fireplace drinking tea, my grandfather the mood spoiler that he is was inquiring
about my cousin’s college major and what he planned on doing after college. I was
pretty sure the inquisition wasn’t going to end there. I knew he intended on
making his way around the room with his questions and I was ready with my
answer when it came for me to share what my plans were. However, my turn never
came. Turns out it wasn’t just me. He had managed to grill all the boys in the
room and dumb down their confidence, but he had not once directed any questions
toward any of the girls. I was upset and angered by his neglect so I decided to
speak out. I loudly called him out and expressed my dreams and wishes. I told
him that I planned on becoming a doctor and once I have my carrier settled, my
dream is to have my very own TED conference. He laughed and called my idea
ludicrous, he exclaimed all this planning about the future was of no use to
girls because they are eventually going to get married and have kids and then
that’s what their life’s purposes ought to be. I was disgusted by his thoughts,
and in that moment even my sister’s pleading eye’s conveying the message to
remain silent weren’t going to stop me. I got up, went to the front of the room
and begin what was to be an extremely long lecture on why girls are every bit
as deserving of a career as boys. I stated how when anyone in the family says
these ambitions are false hopes and illusions as if to demean them, I balk. I dealt
with so many things because my family didn’t have my back. I dealt with racism,
classism, sexism, prejudice, and general ignorance. The world taught me that it
doesn’t matter how I was raised, but that I get to choose to be kind, loyal,
brave, and true. I told him this family’s discrimination taught me to be strong
under the pressure of this world and to hold fast to what I know to be right. This
family has pushed me so far off the edge that it has changed me as a person, a
person who would rather speak against discrimination than remain silent due to
the fear of being disliked or labeled. So just because this family’s traditions
are set against a fantastical backdrop according to this generation of women,
it does not mean their value is any less. That night was the most intense night
my family has ever spent together, to my grandparents, uncles, aunts and
cousins I was a whole different person that night, It was as if a demon had possessed
me, I was openly defying the patriarchy in the family, and I too for a second
was shocked at the words coming out of my mouth, but glancing around the room
into the hopeful eyes of the women that night, I knew that none of them wanted
me to fail, choke up, and crash, and once I realized that  my
anxiety, my fear, and my pattering heartbeat all begin to fade, and at
that point I was unstoppable. That day was the day I knew I loved debating, it
was my superpower, and I was as sure of it that day as I am today, that
debating is the most liberating talent I will ever have. To this day, every
family event or function has been peaceful, the patriarchy has yet to subside,
but I am content with the men, especially my grandfather restraining their
sexist remarks. Which is why I have also tried to be more complacent, so, even though
I may not agree with my family on many things, I still do my utmost to respect them.
I may bend the rules a bit, but I have always tried my best to please them. I don’t
stay out late at night because they don’t like it, even though it is perfectly
normal for all the boys in the family to do so, and I learned how to cook and
clean like the rest of the girls in the family because it makes them happy. I
decline offers to hang out with my friends on Friday because my family prefers I
go to the religious center to offer prayers with them, and I wake up before
sunrise on weekends and help my mom make breakfast for the rest of the family.

 Despite all that I’m still considered the
rebel of the family because unlike the rest of my cousins I wasn’t raised by my
parents to ignore casually made misogynistic remarks and dissent words down my
throat, I was taught to speak, debate and argue until I proved my point. So, I may
hold the prestigious rebel title in the family, but to the rest of the world I am
still that girl who wouldn’t cross a line because she’s afraid of being
disowned. My friends believe my life and future are pre-planned by my family,
and refuse to believe me when I argue that it’s not like that. They tell me my
words don’t match my actions, and I am too straight laced to defy my family’s
views. Therefore, the only option I have, is to debate with my family about how
their ignorance is unfair and borderline cruel, and then debate with my friends
about how my family doesn’t get to decide how I chose to live my life. I don’t
have just one identity like everyone else, I have two, both of which are
exceptionally unique and extremely tiring, but however hectic this debacle
might seem, it has all turned out for the best, this year, I got a job, I worked
hard in school and am ready to graduate. This year I became
more independent than I have ever been, this year I got my priorities in order,
and although I will miss arguing with my gigantic traditional family, I have on
my own decided to leave. I have decided to stop masquerading between two
different identities and have planned to become the strong independent woman I have
always strived to be. These multiple identities taught me so much, they gave me
an opportunity to break sexist traditions, hardcore stereotypes and my personal
fear of being disliked, and in all this, I have surely mastered a skill I will
further hone and cherish for life, the skill which I consider an art beyond all
others, indeed I have mastered the art of debating.