The Senior School Speech Competition took place throughout the last few weeks of school. To read the winning speech for each year, please scroll down. Or, click on the name of a specific speaker to skip straight to their speech.
Year 11 Winner: Christine Shao
Year 12 Winner: Erin Rogatski
Year 13 Winner: Michelle Huang
A Real Problem In Society Is: Procrastination (Christine Shao)
It’s 11 ‘o’ clock on a Monday night and a teenage girl is sitting in her room, a look of intense concentration upon her face, staring unblinkingly into her 15.5 inch computer screen. Her brain is whirring, desperately searching for a topic for her next piece of homework, and is silently berating herself for leaving it to the last minute. That girl? Is me. That piece of homework, is this speech. And that topic: is procrastination.
Procrastination refers to the act of putting things off and replacing important actions with trivial ones. But to be honest, none of us really need a definition for “procrastination”- it’s already a big part of our lives. Homework- dump it in a corner and do it later. Dishes- dump them in the sink and do them later. Cleaning bedrooms- dump it under the bed and do it never.
Procrastination is an especially big problem in teenagers. We are easily distracted creatures who find Facebook infinitely more interesting than the real book we have to read for English. We can’t help the fact that we think texting is more fun than reading a textbook. But that doesn’t mean we have to spend all our time on one, and ignore the other.
I may not be the best candidate to tell you all to stop procrastinating- since I do it all the time. But I do have first-hand experience of the effects that procrastination has on our lives. For example, I stubbornly refuse to leave a task undone, and as a result I sacrifice my “beauty sleep”. It’s the most common sacrifice for procrastinators to make and I doubt any of us sleep the recommended 10 hours for teenagers.
However it is not just our physical well-being that is affected. “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried”. Due to procrastination we prioritise and re-evaluate our options. We make sacrifices and fail to pursue opportunities. The teenage girl who sat in her room writing her speech the night before she was to present it had been procrastinating for the last month. Without determination to finish I wouldn’t be standing here today and I would have missed this opportunity.
Procrastination makes easy things hard, and hard things even harder. But the number of friends who have told me they “can’t be bothered” and therefore procrastinate, are endless. The hours of sleep I have lost to procrastination are countless. And the areas of life that procrastination affects are boundless. As you can see, the effects of procrastination are 100% negative. And you would think, with that kind of statistic we would be more pro-active in resisting it, but the disappointing reality remains that we just “deal with it” and move on.
And so, to solve this problem is no easy task. If it were, it wouldn’t exist as a problem for me to talk about today. To be frank, there is no solution to this problem. All we can do is improve the current situation. As a society we no longer discourage procrastination, nor recognise it as a problem, but we should. Procrastination is overly accepted and has become an easy excuse, a form of justification as to why we’re not achieving our full potential. We, as a teenage generation fail to realize that we’re procrastinating in excess, and that it is a problem.
So we need to break this status quo of social attitude towards our procrastination. Yes, as cheesy as it sounds, we need to change our attitude and be more aware of the stress we’re inflicting upon ourselves by procrastinating. We need to develop mental resilience so that next time, when it comes to choosing between your Facebook and book, you would choose the real book. And demonstrate self-control so that when you have to pick between texting, and textbook reading, you would pick the textbook. You may delay, but time will not. So don’t procrastinate now- procrastinate later.
A Real Problem in Society is: Too many Choices (Michelle Huang)
In the year 2013, developed countries all across the world are battling a major crisis. This problem is the root of all things bad in this world. It is the reason for suicides, homicides, genocides, matricides, patricides, insecticides, pesticides, and all other ‘cides’ in this world. It is the reason why Bambi’s mother was shot, why Simba’s dad fell off a cliff and why Rose didn’t move over on the iceberg so Jack could live. This problem is getting out of hand, and it needs to be stopped. It affects every single person in this room today. This problem is the dilemma of choice.
Now, many of you are probably sitting there all ready for a first world speech on first world problems. Well…that is exactly what you will be receiving. Because you know what, choice IS really hard, especially in our modern society. The reality is that the ability to choose is actually more of a drawback then a benefit. Nowadays, people are so overwhelmed by the many available options in front of them, that they don’t even know where to start.
Let me break it down for you. We live in a country where our supermarkets are packed with over 30 different types of bread, across 10 different brands. Our tissues come in 2 ply, 3 ply, 4 ply, soft, extra soft, extra extra soft, sensitive on skin and/or fragrance free, not to mention the different box designs. We often find ourselves staring into packed wardrobes and fridges, yet concluding that there is nothing to wear, or eat. We live in a country where there is an abundance of everything, and it is stressful and tiring to decide what to have and what to do. We constantly have to choose: whether it is what to eat, where to eat, with whom to eat, how we should eat… the choices-of eating in particular-are endless.
According to the psychologist, Barry Schwartz, it has actually been proven that too many choices make us more miserable, rather than happier; and that more choices actually make it less likely for us to take action. Or as the young people would say: Aint nobody got time for dat. We have always thought of choice as being a blessing, but could it actually be a curse in disguise.
There have been countless reasons throughout time, as to why choice is good. Firstly, choice means you have more options, which means you are more privileged, which means that you are more well-off, which means you are better then other people, which means that you are pretty much the man, or woman, depending on which you would rather be-choice means that you can be either, neither or both, it’s really up to you. Secondly, choice is used to stimulate the mind. Because choosing requires a lot of brain power, and the brain works like a muscle…the more it works, the stronger it gets. Therefore, people who have more choices, probably have a more aesthetically pleasing brain. Or as one brain would say to the other: Do you even lift. Thirdly, choice is used to allow dare devils to live on the edge. An edge of opportunity costs. Should I do this? Or that?
As someone who is often confronted with choices, I know that the negatives much outweigh the positives. I, along with many, many other people in this world, am afraid of choice. Choice is time consuming, and it often leaves us thinking…what if? Companies like Apple take advantage of this fear, by only providing seemingly similar products. For example, Apple only has one type of phone, the i-phone. The only thing different about their phones is that they constantly upgrade the previous edition, instead of actually bringing into the market different types of phones. Well played Apple…well played.
So then, how do we solve this increasingly alarming problem? Well, I propose to get rid of choice altogether. From now onwards, supermarkets can only provide one type of brand for all their items. Everybody must wear the same clothes in the same colour, wake up at the same time, and go to bed at the same time. There will only be one channel on television, and it will play the same thing again and again. Everybody must eat the same food, use the same vocabulary, have the same timetable, live in the same types of houses, earn the same amount of money and listen to the same music. I shall be known as Kim Jung Michelle and you will all be my peasants. That is an order, not a choice. Alright, that might be taking things a tiny bit too far…
Last year, I travelled to Vanuatu where I got to live the village island life for over a week. The island life was a stress free, choice free life of eating the same food every day. It was FANTASTIC. However, if I had to live there for a month, maybe even longer…I would soon have gotten terribly bored of only eating taro and paw paw for every meal. In all honesty, we are privileged to be able to have the option to choose, an option which so many people in this world do not have, and can only dream of. But this option to choose can often, and often is a huge burden, especially when we have so many choices for every aspect of our life. Sometimes… the simple childish act of closing your eyes, and just randomly picking, can save you a lot of time. At the end of the day, just like I didn’t choose the thug life…you didn’t choose the choice life either, the choice life chose you. So is the problem of choice a benefit or drawback? You decide… Or should I say,,, you choose.