Tonight I gave my first speech for Toastmasters NYC, the speech and delivery club I joined about a month ago to not only improve my speaking skills but to network with other up and coming speakers.
Mentally I wasn’t nervous at all, but I have to admit … physically I was all sorts of clammy and flustered.
Of course, once I got up there I settled in, but it’s funny after all these years how things can still effect you.
That’s part of the reason why I joined. I figured if I scare myself on a weekly basis for a while that should cure it, right?
Here’s my practice recording:
Kids These Days
Raise your hand if you think kids today have it easy.
They have everything at their fingertips. Think about it … they wonder for absolutely frickin not.
Fellow Toastmasters, most welcomed guests let’s take a stroll through time, shall we. Just to remind ourselves of how life used to be.
I was born in the late 70’s when dials on radios would only skip stations when you pushed hard on those thick black plastic buttons. The phones had wheels that we had to spin all the way around and chords that would strangle you if you weren’t careful.
We had only one TV in the house with, I don’t know, 15 or so channels. Cartoons were on only right after school or Saturday mornings, never mind a whole network. I usually just watched what everyone else was watching, because nobody actually wanted to get up to change the channel. Remote control, HA!
At the dinner table, discussion would often lead to discrepancies where the dictionary or the Encyclopedia Britannica would have to be brought to the table. But never mind if we had a question about something that started with a P when we were only to the O in our subscription. Encyclopedia Britannica distributed the knowledge only monthly, one at a time, from A to Z.
I recall struggling with homework sometimes. My grandmother didn’t know the answer, my grandfather wasn’t home, so we would just have to take it up with the teacher the next day. There were no other resources, no emailing the teacher–no online tutorials—pshhh!
Do you know how many hobbies I would have had if the internet was invented? Or how awesome I would have been at breakdancing. I would have definitely played a cooler instrument, like guitar because I wouldn’t have had to take lessons from that Old Spice smelling weirdo. I would have learned how to juggle without having to ask our fire-eating, Dungeons and Dragons fanatical neighbor.
I would have killed it in the girl scout cookie sales with my social media strategy. Or studied abroad in, I don’t know, third grade. I didn’t even know there was an abroad except for the National Geographic that came about the same pace as the encyclopedias.
What I would have given as a child for my grandmother to own a GPS. Do you know how many “adventures” I went on as a kid, scared for my life. Peering out the window. Eyes on every major landmark, just in case.
When I was eight years old, we got our first computer, an IBM PC Junior. I’m not sure what that thing did, if anything. I think you had to know code to work it. I was happy though because I could type my book reports and save it to a floppy disc without ever having to get that heavy typewriter out that I always seemed to smudge up and make a mess of.
Speaking of book reports, do you remember the dewey decimal system? What was that about? Even at a young age, I knew those librarians weren’t all that busy that they could just show me where to go. Ain’t nobody got time for the dewey decimals! Funny thing is, I think they’re still using that system. Do people even check out books anymore?
I had gobs of questions about life that I knew better than to ask my grandmother. I wanted to know about heaven. I wanted to know why we were here. I wanted to know if you could really get pregnant from eating watermelon seeds. I wanted to learn about my period from someone other than my grandmother. A less catholic and condemning version of birds and bees might have been nice too.
Perhaps even knowing that other people had those questions might have change things. Instead, I assumed that I was the only one and kept them to myself.
Ha! Now there’s a concept. Keeping things to yourself.
Sure, I get it. All this at your fingertip stuff can be overwhelming. But for a kid today to utter the words, “I’m bored.”
Oh, we’re gonna fight.
Bored? I’ll show you bored.
Try a family road trip without a DVD player or a handheld gaming device. We played alphabets and eye-spy till we were car sick, rolling around in the back of the wagon with no belt on.
What about family dinner at a restaurant? We were lucky if we had a kiddie menu with crayons. We played football with the sugar packets until it got out of hand and someone got swatted–in the back of the head.
And, yes, we got swatted. In public even. Public shaming was not only allowed, but encouraged. There was no divorcing your parents. We barely even argued back. Threats like ice cream, TV, and playing outside were nothing to gamble with. There was none of this “ONE, TWO, TWO and a half, TWO and three-quarters”-nonsense.
99.9% of the time, the adult was always right. Teachers, coaches, even strangers. There was no, “Let’s wait to hear lil’ Johnny’s side of the story,” before someone was chasing you around the house with a shoe.
You went to your room and you stayed there, twiddling your thumbs, sitting on your bed, staring at your door, hoping they didn’t forget about you. And going to bed without dinner was not means to call child services. It happened. Thankfully not to me, but it happened.
Listen close, some of us were dumb and some of us were losers. We weren’t all special and we didn’t all walk away with a trophy. We had bruises and black eyes and broken bones because we played with stuff, like outside, like in the woods, like not even all that close to home.
Sure, a bike helmet might have been smart, but a concussion or two is good for character-building I was told. Plus, have you seen those bike helmets from the 80’s–I would choose concussion over that embarrassment any day.
When I was a kid instant gratification wasn’t even invented yet. I was in middle school before we even got a microwave. If you sent someone a note, like in the mail, with a stamp, you had to wait about a week for a reply. We’d run out to the mailbox with anticipation, thrilled to get a letter.
We couldn’t download just one song, instantly. If you liked a song, you drove to the store and bought the whole darn tape, with your allowance–that you had to like do chores for. The only other choice was to sit by the radio all night and wait for your favorite dj to finally play it and then quickly push record. Those original mix tapes took hours to piecemeal together, and God forbid if you got that loose ribbon stuck in the boombox. All your hard work, literally, all tangled up.
Same for movies. There was no instant download or arrive in your mailbox Netflix. We had to convince an adult to drive us to Blockbuster where we could rent a movie if it wasn’t already rented out, and we’re talking VHS here. Those big black book looking things whose ribbons had to be rewound when you were all through watching, that was five minutes of your life you never got back.
And online shopping would have made my life so much easier. Do you know how many hours of my childhood I lost to hiding in the racks at JCPenney while my Grandma shopped for things we could have easily bought online.
I wouldn’t trade my imagination, nor would I trade my sense of adventure. I wouldn’t give up my sense of wonder, or my love of nature. Yet there are quite a few conveniences I would have really enjoyed. Here’s to making up for lost times and being a kid again.
I leave you with this: Those things that scare you, do them.