Fight or Flight

I awoke with a sore throat and took my temperature.  Normal.  My throat didn’t even look very red.  What should I do?  Should I go to the forensic tournament, or stay home.  A Forensics tournament is a competition consisting of speeches serious or humorous, interpretive readings of poetry and prose, and extemporaneous speaking on undisclosed topics.  I decide to go and give my support to the team and do my best.

We had practiced to the point of memorizing our material, and had plenty of time to  relax on our drive to the host college for the tournament the next day.  I had hopes that my sore throat would just go away, but with each mile closer to our destination my throat felt worse.  I drank tea with lemon and honey to sooth my throat, but my voice became hoarse and my throat more painful. Lozenges did not help, and sucking on lemons as recommended by the coach was no help.

In the morning I dressed my competition clothing, selected with the help of my sister.  My hair and makeup were perfect, I looked great, and I felt worse than ever.  The closer I got to the competition the worse I felt.  As is typical of the fight or flight response, my body was preparing for battle, which includes clearing all systems for the fight.  A quick trip to the bathroom to clear my bladder under the pressure of anxiety and the worry of being late for my first competition of the day, I was taking care of my business when a teammate said, “You pee like a horse!”

I was more angry than embarrassed by her comment.  My struggle for calm gave way to anger.  I told her that making such personal comments is juvenile, inappropriate, and bad manners.  I told her to “grow up.”

My speech on being an adult college student with three children seemed almost unscripted as I interacted with the audience who responded with delighted laughter.  “Where do you get your material,”  a fellow competitor asked at the end of the session.  “Life,” I responded.  The judges notes confirmed what I felt.  This was my best presentation yet.

I thanked my juvenile teammate.  Our restroom argument unleashed the tense control I had kept myself under, and I used that energy to express my frustrations of college life in my speech.  My teammate tried to make me feel guilty about ruining her performance with my outburst.

By the end of the day, I had won my first bronze metal.  And my throat?  It stopped hurting.


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