Monday, November 11, 2013

How TeenPact Changed My Life

Ever since I was little, I have been terrified of public speaking.  No matter how hard my mom tried to get me involved in public speaking contests to help me get over my fear, it never quite worked.  One year, however, we heard about a weeklong hands-on government class called TeenPact designed to talk about many things including leadership, current events, government, and public speaking.  In the five years following, TeenPact has taught me that my fear of public speaking limits my potential, and has helped me towards overcoming that fear.

The first time I heard about TeenPact, I could not see past the fact that I would have to stand up in front of everyone and read a mock bill that I had written to see what other benefits the class offered. Somehow I avoided the weeklong class, but I couldn’t get out of the public speaking class TeenPact offered at the end of the week.  My sister had attended the class and loved it, but my reaction was quite the opposite.  Over lunch, while everyone else was writing their speeches, I became so nervous that I burst into tears and refused to participate—I convinced myself that I would embarrass myself and the world would end.

The next year, no matter how much I protested, I was forced to go—the phrase “dragged kicking and screaming” doesn’t come anywhere close to describing my reaction.  The thought of reading my bill in front of everyone still terrified me, but as I was waiting for my turn, one of the staffers took the time to reassure me that standing up in front everyone still scared them.  With that knowledge, I was able to go onto the stage, knees shaking, voice trembling, to read the first few paragraphs and later call my mom to say that I was enjoying it after all. After that, I let myself take everything in and began realizing that I was only holding myself back by allowing the fear of public speaking to control me.  Once I realized that I was the only thing holding myself back, TeenPact started not only teaching me leadership, government, and public speaking, but also the self-confidence I needed to help me get over my fear.

Two years later, I found myself willingly standing on that stage to argue in favor of my mock bill and answer questions about it--essentially an impromptu speech.  The next year, I did the same thing, but in addition to that, I begged to be allowed to stay for the public speaking class after the main class was over--the same one that had brought me to tears five years earlier.  Now that I was taking these steps towards overcoming my fear, I decided to take it a step further and help others do the same.  After the extreme reaction I had after my first encounter with TeenPact, if someone were to have told me that a few years later, I would be applying to staff that very same class, I would have laughed in their face.  And yet, that’s exactly what I did.   

In a span of five years, TeenPact transformed a thirteen-year-old who was scared senseless at the thought of having to give a short speech into a seventeen-year-old who was biting at the bit to become more involved in public speaking opportunities.  Not to say that public speaking no longer scares me, and not to say that it is my favorite past time, but I no longer burst into tears at the thought of giving a speech.  I simply remember what my first TeenPact staffer told me and remember that it’s okay to still be scared, as long as I don’t let it control me.

~Comma Queen

To find out more about TeenPact, you can visit their website:

Please note: TeenPact does not condemn or condone this article.


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