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In the words of Year 11 Prefect, Jade, 20 seconds of courage is all you need to start a conversation with the person next to you.
For those who don't know me, my name is Jade. And as a big-time movie lover, I thought I would start my speech with an idea that I learnt from one of my all-time favourite movies, We Bought a Zoo. It’s the idea of 20 seconds of courage. Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. Why twenty seconds? It’s enough time to formulate what you are going to do, but not enough time to doubt what you are doing. Now this insane bravery isn't about crazy risk-taking acts. It isn’t about doing something big. It’s sometimes just talking about what scares you.
And I think when discussing this initiative, all of us wanted to emphasise the idea of honest conversations. Sometimes the hardest part of dealing with our struggles and who we are is advocating them to the people around us. So, I thought it was my turn to do so. For most of you who don’t know, I am half Filipino and half Australian, or as I like to put it, ‘I put the Asian in Caucasian’. Now despite the many jokes I make about my mixed heritage, it's always something that I have been slightly self-conscious about.
Having one foot in two very different cultures can be great. Channelling my ‘inner Hannah Montana’, I was always trying to get the best of both worlds. However, having this interracial background, I sometimes felt a sense of being incomplete and unsure of who I was exactly. I always felt that I was not in tune enough with where I came from. Not Asian enough, not Australian enough. Not enough. My thoughts, my opinions, the way I dress are so heavily influenced by modern Western culture, however in terms of appearance I don’t fit that ‘typical Australian’ stereotype. And as much as we are told not to believe in those stereotypes, like most people I find myself constantly comparing myself to them, tearing myself down and picking myself apart in attempt to conform to my environment. This mindset, along with all the other pressures of high school, was toxic. Constantly denying and pushing away the parts of myself that didn’t quite fit. But probably the most toxic part of this was the fact that I swept it all under a smile, refusing to say anything. So here I am!
I cannot stand up here and honestly say that I have let go of this self-conscious part of myself, but I have come to realise that my heritage is integral to who I am. Although my experience may not resonate with all of you, I do believe that it is universal and human to sometimes feel insecure or hesitant in embracing the things that make us different. But I wanted to reiterate the fact that one of the bravest acts is accepting who we are as people and accepting that we can’t all be the same. I know it’s difficult to face what we struggle with personally, but there is also incredible value in talking about it. It doesn’t have to be now. Take your time. Because that conversation is ‘Fear-less’ in itself.
So, if I can leave you with anything today, it’s to start the clock and take that 20 seconds. Start those conversations. Share with the people around you. Admit your struggles. Admit your strengths. 20 seconds is all you need. And I promise you, something great will come of it. And I think I’ve taken up my 20 seconds, so I am passing it on to you.
Jade (Year 11)