Final-year agriculture student, Emma McCormack (22) is back with another update.
So, I recently have joined the college debating team, in a bid to participate in an upcoming Agri-Food debate. Now, anyone who knows me will be aware that I love a good argument, and when I know that I am right, I do not back down.
Obviously, this is a trait which can and has often gotten me into trouble but that does not faze me and if I have learned anything in the past twenty-two years, it is that I will never be afraid to speak my mind, regardless of what people think.
This is easier said than done since people fall out all the time because of clashing opinions. Debating is a hugely invaluable tool which allows you to argue your point, expose false claims of the opposing argument and all the while, knowing how far you can go without offending anyone too much or being out of line.
There exists a balance whereby you can perfectly express your opinion and get your entire audience on board, without losing the professional element of your language and demeanour.
I often hear statements being made or read things online that outrage me. I am quite a passionate person about many topics, such as animal welfare and profitable farming.
The secret to a great debate
The secret to a great debate and essentially a winning argument is being confident; calm; excelling under pressure. Debating is not easy. You are on a stage, microphone in hand, any number of people before you, all eyes in the room analysing your every move and every word you speak being carefully noted. An opposing team beside you, ready to rip your argument to shreds if you let them.
A panel of judges in front of you, ready to whip marks away if you lose your cool in the heap of the moment. Team members behind you, relying on you to help them to succeed. The pressure is not something you can overlook very easily, but as I often need to remind myself, diamonds are made under pressure!
I am a person who needs discipline in my life; I can be unruly and unreasonable when I am in a disagreement. I imagine there would be no issue, finding people to confirm this.
Debating, although nerve-wreaking, is the ideal medium to allow me to channel my ideas and theories in a calm, collected way without blowing my lid, like I often do. I could sit here and explain to someone else exactly how to debate and how to do it well, at that; however, when it comes down to it, I am no expert and once you begin to speak into that mic with three minutes counting down on the clock, you’re on your own and it’s difficult not to feel a little nervous or doubt yourself.
Out of my comfort zone
As many will agree, debating is not for everyone but the idea behind it is that I am pushing myself, out of my comfort zone and into the deep end. My ability to swim is about to be put to the test. I have no arm-bands and no instructor beside me. It’s thrilling and that is what I love. Everyone should put themselves out there a little more, to do something you haven’t before or something that makes adrenaline flood your body. Often, you’ll hear people say things like “Ah, I would love to get involved in that, but I am far too busy, I’d never have the time”.
90% of the time, this is a lie. It is not that you do not have the time, it is just that you will not make the time. You have the same number of hours in the day as I and everyone else on this planet does.
There is a percentage of the world’s population who manage their time very efficiently and do not make excuses. It’s difficult to put a figure on it, but I imagine they are a tiny minority. I cannot even put myself in that category – not yet anyway. I am aware of the concept and am always trying to improve but I still waste time. I am very busy, and I often feel stressed out, but if I were a little savvier with organizing my days, this presumably would not be a huge issue.
College and work
I am in college, full-time and am in my final year. This alone is a lot on my plate. I have never failed a college exam yet (this is my fourth year to be in third level education) and I have no intentions of doing so, either. The toughest thing about college is striking the balance between having fun and learning - I still haven’t quite got there yet!
At weekends, I work two farm jobs to keep money in the bank and I enjoy being busy, but college work is often forgotten about from Friday to Monday which is not ideal. That is along with this job, my favourite, which is creating content for this agri-media publication. In work at weekends, it’s physically tough and the sweat rolls down my forehead, but this article writing is the hardest.
Sometimes, it is so difficult to get the words onto the page. It is easy to become wrapped up in what people think, and what backlash you might face should you say what you want to say, but it is such a learning curve and I really enjoy trying to improve my work all the time.
I am extremely grateful to have been given this platform to get myself out there, along with all my crazy ideas. I am also grateful for the many exciting opportunities and proposals which have come to the fore because of this medium.
If you can take any idea away with you, as we approach another fresh, new November week, let it be this. You are stronger and more capable than you know. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there, as daunting as it may be and do not be put off by the reaction or the result you may experience.
Sometimes you have to say what people do not want to hear, but what needs to be said. Do something this week for you, and something which allows you to be a better you next week.
Whether it is joining a discussion group, signing up to do a course or applying for a new job, do it for yourself. People will judge you, regardless of where you go or what you do.
Most of the people with negative things to say, who try to stall you on your journey to success, are not achieving anything worth mentioning themselves, hence they feel jealous or threatened by you putting yourself out there. I have experienced it many times. They are the people who will want to be your mate when you get to the top.
At the end of the day, comment as they might on what you’re doing, nobody actually cares where you end up, except yourself. If you can’t push yourself to where you want to be, you cannot expect to ever arrive there.
Believe in yourself, surround yourself with people who push you forward and keep grazing away at it, just as the cows themselves do.
You don’t see cows looking around in the paddock, to see what other cows think!