by Xenia Makridou

Right, so basically I’ll be having my LAMDA Public Speaking Exam in a couple months, and here’s one of the two speeches I ought to prepare for the exam! Have a look! Any feedback very welcome, and, in fact, encouraged.

Speech #2 (Own Choice): “A Simple Guide To Belonging”

Topic: My speech covers the issue of the need of young people to fit in.

Audience: This speech is aimed at younger students in my school (particularly Year 7 to 9) as part of an anti-bullying awareness week at school.

Purpose: The purpose of my speech is to help these younger students understand the very nature of our society, and encourage them to be themselves and be more accepting and tolerant of others.

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Have you ever felt left out? Lonely?

I’m sure you have. Everybody has. It’s natural – especially when we are younger.

As some of you probably already know, I spend some of my free periods during the school day helping children currently in junior school in their Physical Education classes. Not long ago, I witnessed an incident that reminded me of the past – of how my classmates and I used to be. It reminded me of situations and feelings that had slowly found their way in the recesses of my mind and heart as I grew up. It suddenly occurred to me that as we grow up, certain things that we used to do as kids, we don’t really do as teenagers. That day, during ‘P.E. Support’, as we call it in Year 12 and 13, the teacher assigned two group leaders to pick their team members. This is Year 3 we’re talking about here. I could see how the first to be chosen were the immediate friends of the leaders. As fewer and fewer kids remained to be chosen, I could almost sense the fear of the kids to be left last to be chosen. And then, I remembered. We were exactly like them back in the day.

I saw history repeat itself in front of my eyes, and then I realised that what they were doing – what we were doing – was the most natural thing. Validation. They sought validation. We sought validation. The entire world seeks validation. We all want to feel like we belong.

If we all agreed to be more accepting of others, we might have been able to belong together more easily, right? But the real trick to belonging is keeping one’s identity. What do I mean by that? In many cases, while struggling to belong, one might lose his or her identity. They might try to hide certain aspects of their character in fear that their true self is not good enough for their new ‘friends’. They may try to ‘fake it’, putting it in simple words. After all, isn’t there a saying ‘fake it till you make it’? Belonging, however, is not about this. One should belong with their friends only if they accept them for who they really are. If they admire their good qualities and are willing to put up with their bad qualities. If they enjoy being with them during the good times and are there, and ready to stand up for them, during bad times.

What I want you to keep from my speech today is simply that it’s natural to seek acceptance. We all want to belong – and we all try to belong. We seek friendship because it makes us more complete as people, in all possible ways. I therefore urge every single one of you to be more accepting – more tolerant of others. We’re all just human beings, leading lives pretty much the same as our neighbours’. We have nothing to separate, but everything to share. But, remember. In your quest to belong in this society and gain the reward of acceptance, remaining true to yourselves is the real challenge. Be yourself. Because in the end, that’s all that really matters.