I was called upon to do Table Topics at my local Toastmasters club.
And I remembered that the question was about my favorite holiday celebrity movie. Or something like that. Table Topics is intimidating enough as it is, but it was another thing to get called upon to do a completely off-topic response like that.
After all, I’ve rarely watched holiday celebrity movies. And the only answer I could come up with was Home Alone 2. Quite a generic answer. I didn’t know much about the movie, and I frankly forgot about what it was about. So, I stuttered, stammered, and choked through the response, not speaking coherently and offering a vague answer at best.
Admittedly, it didn’t feel good to give out the answer and I could sense that the audience was a bit perturbed by my response as well. For whatever reason, I just did not feel comfortable giving the answer to that question.
I sat through the majority of the meeting, trying to support the other members whom got called upon to answer questions. And at the end of the meeting, I was called upon again for another Table Topics response! But, this time, I was a bit more nervous than usual given my first mess up of the response.
But, I saw it as an opportunity to right my wrong. An opportunity to try again. If at first you don’t succeed, just try and try again. That’s the common saying. And this time, I was asked a question about my favorite type of prayer.
Suddenly, everything just seemed so clear and concise. And I was able to give a meaningful response about my favorite type of prayer that I’d give when at temples or other ceremonies. And it was simply to wish for peace, health, and joy to all my friends, family, and loved ones. That was it. Nothing more and nothing less.
When I wish for my “friends”, I don’t just mean my Cornell friends, or my Toastmaster friends, or my immediate family. I mean my friends from all over the world. Basically, encompassing the entire globe. After all, that’s what peace on earth should be all about.
And I remembered I felt a sigh of relief upon giving a more coherent and meaningful response than I did the first time. And I thanked internally the table topics master for giving me the chance to answer another question at the meeting.
So, my first response I felt to be inadequate. And my second response I felt to be better and sufficient. It just got me thinking about the topic of resilience. About bouncing back from adversity. About facing challenges and struggles.
This was by no means a near-death experience, but it reminded me of my first few years at Toastmasters, when I’d just stutter and stammer through table topics questions at Toastmasters with no coherent response whatsoever. And I remembered not being too phased about the problem, and just pushing on.
It’s a testament to battling and just hanging in there. It’s something that we should all develop as human beings. Since, life is never going to be ideal nor perfect. There will always be challenges and pushback coming from external forces that make us want to cringe and adapt.
These forces are a silver lining, because they force us to grow internally as human beings. What’s life without a little bit of pain and adversity? This is what helps us get better at living. At seeing things for what they are. Life will not be life without a little bit of inevitable suffering.
I know there are a lot of advice out there on how to avoid suffering and to avoid pain. But, sometimes, there is the need to fall a little bit and to get back up. And that’s what simply doing table topics questions at Toastmasters has helped me learn.
That you’re not going to get every response right in life. There will be times that you stutter and stammer and crawl. No matter how hard or how frequent you practice. No matter how confident you feel.
But, there’s that wise old saying, it’s not about how much you get knocked down. But, it is how you get back up that matters. And we all have that fight within us. To push through. To fight through. To get back up when times get rough. To bounce back in the face of adversity.
It’s nothing new. It’s not an epiphany. And it’s certainly not rocket science. It’s just a case of how life is in the real world. And inwardly, I am thankful for every opportunity to get back up.
To know what it feels like to get knocked down, and to be revitalized in those situations.
We all have it within us to bounce back from hardship. It’s within our bones. That’s what being a human being is all about.