This is a Toastmasters Project 1 speech I delivered on April 7, 2016, at Malang Toastmasters Club. Project 1 is the first speech project of new Toastmasters members, where they are tasked to introduce themselves to fellow club members.

Esteemed guests, fellow Toastmasters (finally), good evening.

A week ago, Thea told me that introducing one’s self shouldn’t be difficult. You know what? I totally disagree. And tonight I’m going to share to you why

Fear of the letter I

My name is Mick Basa, and over the years, my profession has always been to report the news. As a journalist, my task is to tell the truth without fear . But if there is one thing that journalists are scared of: it is the fear of the letter I.

On the very first day I entered the realm of journalism, my editors made it clear: avoid putting one’s self into your stories. To write in the first person is a mortal sin, almost equivalent to bribery and plagiarism.

So that’s an explanation for those of you who wonder why news reports are never written in the first person. There’s no I, but only he, she, them, and they.

Apart from that, we are told not to disclose our personal views, our political alignment, and religious beliefs. It’s not that they do not matter, but in the spirit of impartiality, these are rules that we ought to abide.

How we introduce ourselves

So here’s how we usually introduce ourselves. We say our our name, and the news organisation we represent. You can say your nationality, but never the presidential candidate you’re voting for.

For nearly 10 years of keeping my personal life from public scrutiny, here’s a journalist trying to do a Project 1 speech — which is breaking the Ice — with the use of the letter I.

But I would like to take this opportunity to get myself used to the letter I.

Indonesia and I

I left the Philippines to take a short break from work in the hope that I could spend time searching for myself.

And what better way to do that by moving to a country with a name that begins with the letter I? Indonesia, a country that’s imagined by many bules as a place for soul searching.

However, instead searching my self, I found myself listening to the stories of the locals. Sometimes, I would take pictures of them. Wherever I go, whatever I do, no matter how far I go, journalism is that mystical ghost that keeps on haunting me.

So, who am I?

Ladies and gentlemen, my dear friends, if you ask me the question who are you over and over again, I don’t think I have an answer apart from this: my sense of self will always be tied to being a journalist.

And here I am standing before you, attempting to do a Project 1 speech — while actually evading the very task of sharing details about my life.

But since I joined Malang Toasters Club, I have not felt the need to refrain myself from sharing you my personal stories. And I thank all of you for sharing your warmth. In fact, I have made friends with some of you here in just a short span of time. Perhaps, without Malang Toastmasters, journalists like me would have no way of bracing the phobia of the letter I.

My dear friends, fellow toastmasters, we all have reasons of joining this club.

Fatur said, it’s for his child.
For Lita: this is her passion.
For Adi, it is to excel in public speaking.

And for me, it is to embrace my fear of the letter I.

So tonight, let me do that by formally introducing myself, using the letter I.

I am Mick Basa, and I am very glad to be a part of this club.

Back to you.

3 thoughts on “Toastmasters: My fear of the letter I

  1. Wow. Bapa, I don’t have any idea what this Toastmasters Club is so I googled it and found that it’s about public speaking. As I read this post of yours, I found myself nodding on some parts. I’ve been afraid of the letter I too. And I think this is one of the reasons why I’ve stopped blogging for a while. I felt that the more I write about myself, even in a personal online space only a few people knew about, the more I make myself believe that only my stories matter. Once when I was bored, I read my old blog and noticed that most of my posts were during the time when I was still an extrovert and had so much stories to tell. Stories that are not really that important, as I look at it now, but back then I felt that they are worth sharing.

    After I returned from Myanmar, I’ve been less likely to share my thoughts. They usually end within the tip of my tongue. Some thoughts (well-filtered and assessed to match that of the person I’m talking to) gets shared. But only within my closest circle of friends. Sometimes, I only share one story per person. As I spent more time discussing with myself instead of others, the letter I started disappearing from my written works too.

    Today, I am slowly learning to use it again. A small part of me may still scoff at my younger, noisier, more annoying self but then again, at least that self was less apologetic and more honest than who I am now. Despite her tactlessness, she’s sincere and I think people liked her for that.

    Thanks for writing this.🙂

    1. Thanks for reading! I posted it here just in case new toastmaster members would find it useful (i myself wondered how a project 1 speech looks like)

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