Me breaking the ice!

By Gv. Madushi Jayawickrama

It is a cold winter evening and you are walking on the surface of a frozen lake. You are aware of the freezing cold water swirling beneath the thin layer of ice, you are treading with caution, taking one small step at a time…. But alas! The ice breaks beneath your feet and you are dragged into the freezing cold water below. This is literally what went through my head the first time I heard the words ‘ice breaker’ put together. It was a complete disaster in my mind. So, naturally, I was really reluctant to take that first step and start doing my CC projects. But somehow, after listening to several speeches by my fellow club members, I could not stop picturing myself standing in front of an audience and delivering a speech. Just like that, I was determined to start a CC as soon as possible.

I spent days brainstorming for content. ‘I just have to talk about myself, how hard can it be?’ I thought. But, all of a sudden, my whole life seemed to be really boring and I could not think of a single thing from my past that might pique the interest of my audience. Anyway, I worked out an outline of a speech, and then booked my CC slot. A few days later, I timed my speech for the first time, and like always, I had another problem. My speech went on for more than 10 minutes! Then I had to go through the tedious process of cutting off most of the things from my initial speech outline, to fit it into 6 minutes.

I was finally satisfied with my content. I was excited and pretty confident. But as the time flew by, and the date of my CC1 came closer, my confidence chose to distance itself from me. Two days before the speech, it had completely disappeared from my mind, leaving only nervousness and doubt in its place. But at that exact moment, one of my batchmates, who is also in the gavel club and much more experienced, got in touch with me and offered help. I was extremely grateful for that intervention and he helped me gain that final bit of courage I needed to take the leap. With his suggestions, I modified the speech and practiced, recorded my speech, and listened to it, checking for places to improve. My speech evaluator also got in touch with me the day before the speech. She patched up my wounded morale with her kind and sweet encouraging words. With the support of all of my fellow gaveliers, I was finally ready to break the ice!

Five minutes before the speech, I had a little dwarf with a face filled with evil sitting on my right shoulder (yeah, just like in the cartoons) constantly whispering in my ear “You are going to mess it up.” repeatedly, in an annoying rhythm. But my bestie, who is also a fellow gavelier, took the role of the tiny angel who is supposed to be sitting on the opposite shoulder, texted me, “Don’t be nervous. You have done this a million times in table topic sessions. The only difference this time is, it is a bit longer and you actually know what you are going to say…” With that, the evil dwarf lost the battle and I was full of confidence and excitement once again.

I finally did the speech, and did not mess it up too much, (hopefully) I received excellent feedback from everyone, especially from my speech evaluator. She made me feel like I had actually conquered it. She did not forget to mention a few suggestions with her sweet and kind wordings as well.  I was elated and quite proud of myself.

Proving my initial interpretation of the ice breaker being like a lonely cold winter evening utterly wrong, I found myself surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd of awesome gaveliers, giving me a feeling of a warm summer night, where everyone would sit around a bonfire and share their stories. Gavel has been an unreal experience for me so far, full of positivity and encouragement. Everyone is so loving and kind, so much so it feels too good to be real! Despite my own punch line from my ice breaker: “Perfection is a mere illusion in our minds.”, I felt perfection at that moment. So, this goes out to all the gaveliers out there who have not started a CC yet. Step out of your comfort zone and feel the bliss! Trust me, it is addictive.

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