Affirmation Of My Identity

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“Honestly, you should change the way you speak. You sounded like a pig being slaughtered.” The male judge of my debate round spoke casually, without considering the impact of his words as I tried to suppress down my disbelief and feeling of humiliation of his comment.

That was truly eye widening. I had participated in debate for almost two years by then, proud of the fact that I was in middle school despite being surrounded by high schoolers. I had been ignorant with my fantasy as I ignored the times where other students would laugh at my pronunciation, criticize my appearance, or even mock my heritage. I had failed to notice the inequality that existed within the debate space that left several of my female comrades with little options except to quit.

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As the memories came flashing back, I began to ponder, if the fact of me speaking in a certain tone is a sin then my identity as a girl must be wrong. Even more, my existence as an Asian girl in the debate space must be the root of my horrors. I became ashamed of myself, as I tried to imitate my brother’s deeper voice to make it sound better. I tried to disguise myself and instead of feeling proud about my Chinese name “Cheuk Wan” I insisted to be called as solely “Lily,” my English name. It wouldn’t be my freshman year, when a female debater that I had always looked up to praised me for my ability to articulate arguments through my speaking style. A tremendous smile broke on my face as I felt like spring had just nurtured the seed after a callous winter. That moment, whether I won that debate was less important to me as I re-recognized my beauty. My gender was not something I should be ashamed of, butit represented a part of my identity that shapes me for who I am. I will no longer be worried about others laughing behind my back at my funny sounding English as I had proved my capability as a non-native speaker to shine. My heritage along with my identity as a female is nothing to be embarrassed of, but rather it has provided me with a wider horizon that was not accessible to others. I began to appreciate being an Asian female as I began to read arguments that I had once been proud of which advocated for equality of Asian women through my narratives.

Growingwith that mentality I have a profound desire to help others who have also felt depressed about themselves. I have realized that my presence and affirmation of my identity at the debate tournaments can serve as a sign of strength for others. Debate transformed from this activity that I attempted to imitate my brother and always follow the others in an attempt to fit in into an activity that allowed me to always challenge myself and embrace my characteristics as I matured and am proud of my imperfect self. For me, being a true winner changed from having the greatest number of trophies into learning from the process by taking away skills, developing friendships, and using the knowledge you gained to create a community with more inclusiveness.Before I entered my junior year, I became the co-captain of the debate team, and would often help with teaching novices, judging debates at tournaments, and encouraging younger students that have also felt unconfident with their identities and abilities. As I leave high school, I will always bring with me the memories, friendships, and lessons that I had experienced while doing debate. I will always be proud of all my accomplishments and even failures that have really allowed me to become better. I will not limit myself to solely the awards I have received but investigate the future with the confidence in my abilities and be proud of my identities.

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Affirmation Of My Identity. (2022, May 13). Retrieved from

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