Every year I ask myself at least once whether I should stay or whether I should leave. Of course, such questions are asked by my own sub-conscious, as it forces me to respond to the pressing dilemma of whether or not I should end my long-term relationship with Toastmasters.
For those of you who don’t know what Toastmasters is, Toastmasters is an international , membership-based organization dedicated to helping people around the world overcome their fears of public speaking, communication , and leadership .
Now that I am celebrating yet another anniversary with this organization, I find myself asking this question more persistently.
However, I can say that like any other relationship in life, this one too has its ups and downs. I do get those days where I find myself sick of the whole thing. During those days, I feel that I can’t go to another meeting. I can’t listen to another speech, and I can’t sit through another execom election. At other times I feel that I am tired of being an evaluator, a speaker, or even table topics master. It is on such days that I tell myself that me and Toastmasters should call it quits.
Then, exactly when that thought is fermented in my mind, Toastmasters turns around and does something great for me. It does something just to remind me why I shouldn’t leave. I guess my relationship with Toastmasters is just like any other. The minute it faces the threat of falling apart one party reminds the other of why it shouldn’t.
Toastmasters, in such instances, acts like the person bringing its significant other a big bouquet of flowers after a fight. So, I do end up staying although I have finished all my speeches, I have taken on all execom roles I am interested in, and I have practiced every role a meeting comprises.
From educational portions, to evaluations, to speaker, to grammarian, to timer, and ah counter, you name it and I have done it. I have been contest winner, contest runner up, judge, chief judge, tally counter, and timer. I have been a president to a club that thrived in my year and another that fell apart. Yet, I am still a Toastmaster although I have done everything I could possibly be interested in within this organization.
It is the little joys I can still get from Toastmasters. that makes me stick around just a little longer. After all, this organization acts like the extended family constantly filling the old family album with new photos, new members, new moments, and new memories.
I stay because it is the birth place of many friendships I have formed over the years as well as others that I had lost. It is the place where I meet like-minded people who will spice up my life with interesting conversations. It is also the place where I am allowed to practice my horrible Arabic and yet make mistakes that are never fatal.
It is where I get my adrenalin rush as I still to this day get sucked into the thrill from being a mentor. For me, there something personally gratifying about seeing someone evolve as a speaker because you have practiced with them their speech.
So, I am still a toastmaster because I like seeing the ice breakers of my mentees and I like seeing how they branch out from there to be great speakers who can even beat me in contests.
On the stage of Toastmasters contests I have told my most personal stories to an audience eager to listen. Over the years, I have gone on outings that are filled with funny episodes that are only funny to fellow members like me.
So I do stay, because like any other relationship in life, Toastmasters does come with its own share of the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, with each bad and ugly I learn more about myself and with each good I build a new memory.
Toastmasters is like life, in its imperfections it does offer meaning. So, as I celebrate another anniversary in Toastmasters, I guess I am not leaving just yet.
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