Monday, 27 April 2009

sometimes you just don't know what you are supposed to do or who you are supposed to be

I probably shouldn't reveal my work before it's been said, but, in all honesty, i need your help.
i know that there are some people that read this that are very adept with their words.

i have an english studies speech this coming week and, perfectionist that i am, i wanna make sure it's right.... the topic is the title of this post, and it has to be about 5-7 minutes. i think theres meant to be some other kind of presentation with this, like, visual aids, but im really not sure how to incorporate that into this......

There is pressure everywhere you look, everywhere you turn. Pressure to be a good kid, good student, good friend, good other-half, and then the pressure to be cool...whatever the hell that is... yes, I am aware I am probably the last person that should be talking about what’s cool, but hey, I said it.

All this pressure is enough to turn the emotional state of oneself to mush. And then there is the ever-popular affirmation from supportive parents and teachers alike: ‘always remember to just be yourself’ What does that mean?!?!

At this stage in life, we are still struggling with that question every day: ‘who am I?’

It’s easy enough to answer ‘what am I’ because, from the most cynical answer to the most heartfelt, what, and who are not the same thing. We are exposed to seminars and lectures and worksheets and handouts, all with the aim to inspire us into trying to develop our own identity.

Influences from parents, friends, teachers, society, and the media all influence the developing mind, to the point of warping them completely. There are so many external factors pressing upon us, influencing us. As clichéd as it is, role models and personal heroes play a huge part in every kid’s life: as a child, I never really had any heroes, I never thought ‘wow, I want to be like them when I grow up’. However, as I get older I realise that it was my father more than anyone else, his patience, kindness and intelligence, that I drew my inspiration from, and panicked whenever I saw myself drifting from that.

I’m lucky enough that my parents have almost always said ‘I will be proud of you whatever you choose to do in life’. From what I’ve heard, others aren’t so lucky. Children have such great expectations placed on them by their parents that their own dreams and desires can become buried in the effort involved in trying to please. We end up the product of our parents dreams, trying to live the life they wanted for themselves.

Then there is the opposite effect, where you’re left without any guidance or instruction whatsoever. Left to wander through adolescence, and hopefully emerge at the end okay, and at the very least, alive. God knows enough of us are killed by carelessness, and/or stupidity.

But it’s times like that, when we’re left to our own devices, that people really begin to show their true colours, when those few of us take a step up and become the leaders, rather than the followers. And while we may not have much idea from personal experience, there are the stories. Even fairytales have morality meanings, as little red riding hood is well aware.

In this year level there are multiple people with the same name. If I can think straight there are .... three Tom’s, four Michael’s, two Isabelle’s, two Liv’s and four Nick’s, in our year. Names are repeated endlessly. At what point do we remember people by their personality rather than their name. If a certain name has negative connotations for us, we immediately bring up our guard, and our prejudice. Not only this, but turn it around: family names hold reputation. Many a member feels obligated to uphold said name, sacrificing individuality and personal future in the process.

But it is in education that the nurturing of our future really occurs. Remember careers counselling? I do. At the ripe old age of 14, at the end of year 9, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, where I wanted to do further study (there never was any question: i was doing it whether i wanted to or not), what courses I wanted to do. Even now, that seems rather pointless asking me such questions at that age, since I hardly had a grasp on what was going on around me, let alone four years into the future!

But out of all the efforts involved with careers counselling, I remember last year’s interview above all others: only 7 minutes or so of my time gone, easy stuff, since I had not yet failed a class and had teacher recs for all my subjects. My father and I sat down with the teachers and talked, with dad, as usual, having little idea why we were there: the transition of year 11 to 12 seemed inordinately simple to him, as it should be. But, leaving the interview, I got into the hallway and freaked out: everyone had mentioned at least four times that I did not know what I wanted to do with my life.

You know that feeling like everything is out of your control, even though it shouldn’t be that way? Well, that’s how I felt. No one listened to me, even though I said exactly what I wanted and how I was going to get it. I argued with my dad for 10 minutes in the hall, because he was no help whatsoever and, much to my dismay only affirmed the teacher’s assumptions of my own ignorance towards my future. He left. I left, but not for class. The fact that I had been totally railroaded about my own decisions totally threw me. Sitting in the sun, trying desperately to hold back tears seemed to be the only logical solution: it’s hard to feel sad in the bright white of sunshine.

There is one last thing before I bore your socks off: siblings.

In my case, I have two, a brother in year 10 and a sister in year 9. He is the sporty one, great at bowling in cricket; she is the Queen Bee, with the potential to be top of the food chain at school. And as for me, I’m the brains, though it doesn’t seem like it often, especially not these past months.

As she gets older, I realise with a twinge that my sister is more than I am in just about every way. She is physically superior, and mentally very, very sharp, with the potential to be a brilliant writer, apparently. She has this drawing skill... beautiful and confusing in the same instance.

I love her for these, and in this sense of the term, I am incredibly jealous of her. But as it stands, my personality is almost totally different to hers, and that’s what I hold onto when I realise that she could very easily take away everything that I pride myself upon, especially the writing. It is these things that I thought made me unique, helped make me who I am. But I realise now that it’s not true, not totally, anyway.

With constant disputes over, in the grand scheme of life, petty things, like who is first and who is second ranked in class, who hooked up with who on the weekend, it is easy to lose sight of the deeper things, and sometimes, of yourself. It’s the instance within which we wake up to reality, that truly makes us see where we are, and who we want to be. We are the creators of ourselves, regardless of what others think. And though sometimes it is difficult and confusing, and you’re secretly only bluffing confidence, it’s the way in which we learn from experiences, and the way we deal with them, that makes us who we are, even if there is no inkling as to exactly who that is. Without our own opinion of ourselves, we are nothing to the rest of the world. Because we cannot define ourselves by our accomplishments of the material kind. Though, at first glance, life works this way, it is in fact the impact we have upon others that defines us, that we will be remembered for, that makes us who we are.

how'd i go?
any improvements, feel free to comment me.


  1. Hey,
    Personally I wouldn't change it (but I'm not very good with writing so mine might be bad advice) but I really like it, it's very indepth and thoughtful.
    Good Job

  2. Okay, I hope you don't mind me putting in my two cents, but I'm told I'm good at English and I don't mean to be critical or anything, so don't take it as that =/

    Are you allowed to use colloquialisms? Like "kid" and "whatever the hell", but that really depends, some teachers are fine with it, some aren't. and usually with English at school they say not to abbreviate, for instance leave "what's" as "what is", but again, that depends on the teacher.

    "Mush" is also probably counted as too casual English?

    "what, and who are not the same thing". you don't need to have that comma or pause after "what".

    "Influences from parents, friends, teachers, society, and the media all influence the developing mind... pressing upon us, influencing us." Having used "influence", "influences" and "influencing" all together in a very short amount of writing/speaking, it's best to alternate. "all have [a large/huge] /[an] impact" is a possible option,

    "get older" isn't the best /most correct form of English, you could use "mature" instead, or "grow older", although you just said "grow up" in the sentence prior to that.

    "Even fairytales have morality meanings" Perhaps rephrase? Maybe something like "Even fairytales contain morals [and important social concepts]". It's just that it's a little bit of a confusing idea in the way you've stated it...

    "At what point do we remember people by their personality rather than their name." is a question, and should be said as such, so "?"

    "Even now, that seems rather pointless asking me such questions at that age," either, add a comma after "pointless", or change "that" to "it".

    Sorry if I seem overcritical D;<

    But I love it, it's very personal and real + realistic, and I especially love the conclusion! (:

    So yeah, again sorry if I seem too harsh.

  3. As a decent speech-maker, I might also chuck in my two cents for what it's worth (probably around two cents):

    The speech itself is great! So long as you're confident in yourself and your speech, it should be really good.

    I'd suggest practising in front of a mirror. Before you even start speaking, get your posture right. It's vital that you view it as a performance rather than oralising what you have on paper. Presentation will come with confidence, so work at it!

    In terms of the speech, what you've got is good. The worst thing you can do is not believe what you're saying. What you've written is passionate, which always aids the passion of the presentation. Colloquialisms are generally okay so long as they're terms you'd usually use. You're appealing to people like you, so speak like you'd speak in a regular conversation. Of course, if you were making a speech for a teacher, you'd appeal to the teacher's vocabulary by chucking in ridiculously long words, but this assessment is about appealing to the audience.

    Finally, lead into your speech. Add tantalising things about your speech into conversations to gear people up before it happens. If you have the audience on side, it wows the teachers. Not that I use my own methods. By the way, my speech will contain the Macarena. =]

    As I said before, as long as you have a good speech, a few seconds/minutes/hours of practise, and faith in yourself and your speech, this one should be good.

  4. Oh, and with the actual speech... it's what you write, not whether you write, that makes you unique. Most people can write, but it takes a strange (but in a good way) mind to write in a way that no-one has ever considered before. It's impossible to write the same thing but better, because by changing the writing you change the meaning, the interpretation, and what the reader obtains from it. Charles Dickens may write with a more dignified tone, and Shakespeare with a more ye olde air, but each and every writer has something to bring to the table.

    Actually going now.
    Cya tomorrow!