Speaking up in class, or in front of any crowd, is something that never really scared me, yet it felt deeply inadequate. During heated discussions, for instance, a myriad of opinions would pop up in my head, yet none of them appeared worth being expressed out loud. ‘It’s not that relevant’, I would say to myself. But then, I would go home with a vague sense of regret, wondering what difference would it had made, had I said what I had in mind.
Is this a popular feeling?
Perhaps as a young student, it is hard to find my place in a pool of expert voices. I mostly assumed, for instance, I didn’t have enough proficiency yet to exert a valid opinion on whatever subject. I used to leave that to people who had years in the field, who had written books on it. But despite how careful I was to not sound ignorant, I noticed loud opinionated people around me didn’t always have such cautious considerations.
Then why should I be the one keeping her thoughts to herself?
Why is it inadequate to say what I think in times where pretty clueless politicians in powerful positions are blabbering the most ignorant things we have ever heard in our lives? And I’m sure we’ve all sat in class rolling our eyes to a comment from a student who’s overly confident that s/he’s got it right when we think we know better.
Do our words have to be appropriate and precise all the time when people around us do just fine getting it wrong every now and then? Maybe we have framed discussions as rigorous competitions of who can say the most pertinent thing at the most suitable time, that we forget what speaking up is all about.
All of us, including the looney politicians and arrogant students, have been living in the same world for quite some time. But while at it, we have collected experiences that engender uniquely subjective points of view which cannot be expressed by anybody but our own selves. These singular perspectives sound already relevant in and of themselves.
Such angle made me consider that there is an inherent value to anybody’s comments, including mine! We’re part of the world, so there should be some place for us in the conversation. Taking that approach doesn't magically turn you into the brightest of intellectuals, nor the smartest student in the room.
But it could make it easier to raise your hand and speak up in class.